07Nov
Vital Information for Hurricane Victims
Economy

I am hopeful that the information in this blog will be helpful to anyone who sustained damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and/or Maria.  We want you to know that Resonate stands ready to serve as a resource for you.While we are not tax advisers, the information below is a matter of public record.  We are simply committed to offering timely information for you.

Hurricane victims are entitled to take casualty losses even if they do not itemize.

Uninsured personal losses in excess of $500 may be deducted without regard to the “10%-of-AGI ” offset.

If anyone lost tax records, they can use the free “Get Transcript” online tool, which prints a summary of key tax information.  Of course, any Resonate clients using the offered online services of the RESLink Vault and/or Everplans would already have these records stored electronically for easy access.

If actual returns are desired, send a written request to the IRS by using Form 4506.

To expedite a reply, in red ink at the top of the form write the name of the hurricane that impacted you.

For our philanthropically motivated clients, the 50% of AGI limitation is suspended for cash donations to qualified charities serving hurricane victims.

Please contact a tax professional for additional information prior to pursuing any idea contemplated herein.

We hope this information is of value.  Please contact us with any questions.  We are here to serve.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

Read More
20Oct
The “Greenspan Put” Is Now In China’s Hands
Economy

Recently, one of the lead stories on Bloomberg proclaimed: “The Greenspan put is now the Zhou Xiaochuan put.”  Alan Greenspan, of course, was the long-serving Fed chairman, whose tenure started in August 1987.  Zhou will soon be retiring after 15 years as head of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

The point of the Bloomberg article was that today it’s China’s central bankers who, by raising or lowering rates, can exert the greatest control over the global economy, taking over a role that used to be held by the U.S.  It’s an observation that echoes what I’ve been arguing for the last two years, i.e., that today the most important economy when it comes to our financial markets isn’t ours, it’s China’s.  Events have backed up that view: as I’ve pointed out before, our stock market throughout this year and even in 2016 has clearly been swayed in significant part by the economic data generated in China.  And there’s good reason to believe that will continue to be the case.

Recent news reports confirming that China plans to start trading an Eastern oil benchmark denominated in yuan backed by gold – something we have been predicting China is almost certain to do – sounds right on target to us.  And it casts a dark shadow over Western hegemony, in that such a benchmark, which you could label “petro-yuan” as opposed to “petrodollars”, easily could threaten the dollar’s role as the world’s primary reserve currency.  Such a shift would almost surely mean that sharp gains in oil would be much more felt by those holding dollars than those holding yuan, inflicting pain on the U.S. economy and on Americans.

Our message: the U.S. can rely on China only up to a point.  After that, if we don’t rely on ourselves and focus on building our infrastructure and ensuring ongoing access to critical natural resources, our next crisis may end up with a world in which we find ourselves clearly playing second fiddle to China.

(Source: The Complete Investor, 10/10/17, Stephen Leeb)

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

Read More
16Oct
What If We Have Excess Money in a 529 Plan?
College Planning
With the ever increasing costs for college and post-high school education, parents and grandparents often contribute to Section 529 Plans.

529 college savings plans are often thought to be the most effective way to save for college education expenses.  Contributions to these plans can be deducted from state income tax, grow federal and state tax-free, and can even be withdrawn tax-free for the use of higher education expenses, such as tuition, room and board, books and other similar costs.  With the increasing amount of 529 plans, some are finding that a portion of the plan balance may not be needed, in fact, for college expenses.

Due to the variability in college expenses, planning for the precise amount can be difficult.  There are so many factors that affect college expenses.  In-state versus out-of-state tuition costs vary, as do public versus private institution costs.  Future tuition inflation levels and scholarships also can greatly affect a student’s college expenses.  Unlike some other child savings avenues, 529 plans give account owners control.  529 plans also provide ways to divert and divest the surplus or unused amount in the plan.  Some options account owners have are:

Read More
09Oct
What May Happen to Prices in 2018
Economy

I read some predictions in the August 25 Kiplinger Letter which I thought might interest you.

  • Energy prices are on the rise. Crude oil is expected to increase “a few dollars a barrel”.  Natural gas could increase as much as 10% and electricity about 2%.
  • Employers can expect to pay an additional 4% for health insurance while prescription drugs could increase by 10.3%.  This is actually down from the 11.6% increase in 2017!
  • Airfares and freight costs will increase by about 2%. Hotels up about 2.2% and car rentals by 3%.
  • UPS and Fed Ex are expected to increase their rates by 3-5%.

So is anything expected to decrease in cost?  YES! Technology and telecom costs will continue to slide; smartphone, tablets, PC’s and printers may decrease by as much as 10%!

As Wall Street reaches new highs, hopefully it will provide a means for you to handle the higher prices.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

Read More
06Oct
What the Future May Hold for U.S. Large Caps
Economy

Of course, no one knows for sure, but I thought you might be interested in the latest opinions I have received recently.

Tailey Leger, equity strategist for the Oppenheimer Funds states that she expects the large cap rally to continue for at least two more years.

Here is the thinking that supports this position:

  1. A weakening U.S. dollar and strengthening international economies are key reasons.  The foreign exposure of U.S. large cap companies results in 30% of the S&P 500 revenues coming from outside the U.S.
  2. If the president comes through with tax cuts for businesses, it may create more opportunity for growth.
  3. The Federal Reserve is committed to normalizing monetary policy and flattening the yield curve.  Historically large caps have outperformed small caps by an average of 1.8% in flattening yield curve regimes.

Please contact me to discuss your personal objectives and portfolio strategy.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

Read More
03Oct
Is There a Hidden Agenda with Robo-Advisors?
Investing
The market for working with robo-advisers is growing rapidly.

As with anything that increases in popularity, there is new research available about these seemingly “neutral” programs.

Before I share it, let’s define a robo-“advisor”.

Roboadvisors are a class of financial adviser that provide financial advice or portfolio management online with minimal human intervention.  They provide digital financial advice based on mathematical rules or algorithms. (Wikipedia)

In other words, this is nothing more than computer- based programs into which certain data is fed about the investor.  Then, the computer applies algorithms to the data and spits out an allocated investment program.

Here in lies the potential problem.

Read More
22Sep
Investing Tips from Warren Buffett
Investing

Warren Buffett is arguably one of the best investors of all times.  Here are three investing tips from the “Oracle of Omaha”.

  1. “Never lose money.”

    While even the legendary Buffett has suffered stock market losses, one key to his success is that the losses are small and infrequent compared with his larger long-lasting positions.(Please do not take this direct quote literally.  There are no guarantees in investing and there is always the potential to lose money.)

  2. “Be an investor, not a speculator.”

    Speculators tend to bet on price without paying much attention to earnings or dividends.  Speculators tend to be short term technical traders.  On the other hand, investors tend to take the long view and expect to be paid continuously for owning an asset.  This could be in the form of interest or dividends.

  3. “Diversify, diversify, diversify.”

    This advice includes owning both U.S. and International positions, stocks and bonds, multiple sectors, and non-correlated asset classes.

While we understand that each client’s investment strategy and risk tolerances are unique, I hope that these general investing tips are both of interest and value to you.

I also look forward to sharing a conversation with you, to discuss these concepts further and explore how they could apply to your investment goals and objectives.

(Credit for some of this information goes to Steve Jurich, IQ Wealth Management September 2017.)


Barbara A. Culver

CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

Read More
16Aug
How Resonate Provides Value
Economy
Richness of LifeIn case you have not read the first blog in this short series, I invite you to do so.

Since completing it, I have given thought to which of the many client stories I wanted to share with you.

The first story is that of a recent widow who was referred to us.  When I met with Alice, (not her real name, of course), I found her to be very clear and communicative in spite of the recent and sudden passing of her husband.

The stories she told me about her experiences in the financial services world both angered and saddened me.  Assumptions were made that, of course, she would not be able to “handle her own affairs nor make thoughtful decisions” primarily because she was a woman.  On several occasions, male advisors from different companies assured her that “they knew what was best” and even provided “solutions” without bothering to understand the client and her life.

In contrast, I discovered, that when given the opportunity, this woman was quite amazing in how quickly she was adjusting to new life and found her thought process to be remarkably clear.

This included her clarity of thought that the “solutions” provided probably benefited the advisor more than they would benefit her.  Upon discussion and review of the various recommendations, I supported her thinking.

Read More
04Aug
Client Fees & Value
Economy
It seems that everywhere we turn today, the media is emphasizing advisory and product fees.

Common questions are:

“Are you paying too much?”

“Do you know what you are paying for?”

I consider this type question to be one-dimensional and shortsighted.  For example, if one wants to “stay on the numbers’ side”, then where is the question:

 “Are you receiving value for your fees?”

The interesting thing that happens when we insert the word “value” is that we add the possibility for an intangible answer in addition to the one-dimensional tangible answer.

Here are two recent examples of how we have added both tangible and intangible value for our clients:

Example One:

Clients recently came in for their conversation with us, which includes portfolio review. They brought a folder with them and asked: “Will you please look over these estimates for us to pre-pay our funerals?”

This led to a conference call with the clients and the director of the funeral home.  At the end of the conversation in which I asked many questions, the clients said, “Thank you so much.  We understand this now, and are very pleased with the decisions we have made.  Mostly, we feel wonderful that we have taken this burden off of our family.”

Tangible Results: the clients ended up saving $1100 from the original quote.

Resonate Time: 90 minutes

Resonate Fee for this work: $0 

 

Intangible Value Received by the Client: Relief; peace of mind.

Intangible Value Received by Resonate: Knowing we did the “right thing” for aging clients.

 

Another Example…

A client called recently and said: “I’m not sure if these new legal documents prepared by an attorney match our objectives discussed with you.”

Read More
18Jul
IRS on Your Mind? – Here Is What NOT To Try!
Taxes

The subject of taxation is not normally a welcomed topic – here are some “fun” court cases provided by Kiplinger’s.

“A Little Peace and Quiet”

A busy tax preparer ran her business from her home.  During tax season, she felt so harassed from clients calling her at all hours of the day and night that she occasionally booked a room at a local hotel for some peace and quiet.  On her own return, she deducted the cost of this rest and relaxation as a business expense.  Unfortunately for her, the Tax Court ruled that the cost of her good night’s sleep was a nondeductible personal expense.

 

“Billing Mommy”

A wife was sent to jail for killing her husband.  Although she was named as the primary beneficiary of his 401(k) plan, state law barred her from receiving any of the funds because of her crime.  The account was paid to their son instead as the secondary beneficiary.  He claimed that his mother should be taxed on the payout as the intended beneficiary.  An Appeals Court gave him an A for effort but an F in taxation, ruling that he owes tax on the distribution.

 

“Wrecking a Rental Car”

An airline employee needed to get to New Orleans but was stranded by heavy fog.  He worked out a great deal with a rental car company where he paid nothing for a car that the company needed driven to New Orleans.  Unfortunately, he wrecked the auto in Mississippi and had to pay for the damages.  He tried to deduct the payment as a casualty loss, but the Tax Court denied his write-off because he wasn’t the owner of the vehicle.

Now here’s a little good news:

Kiplinger’s recently a report on “The LEAST Tax Friendly States in the U.S. for 2016”.

The good news is that Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and Indiana are NOT on the list.

Here are the factors that were considered to create the list: income, property, gas and sales tax.

In order from the LEAST tax friendly, here are the top states. (Before reading further, it might be fun for you to see how many of them you could guess.)….  California, Hawaii, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Maine, Vermont, Illinois, and Rhode Island!

From our Blogs page, simply search for “tax” to find additional articles of interest.

Please note that, while we are not accountants and cannot provide tax advice, we do work cooperatively with very qualified accountants.  The information that we will share is available to the general public and should not be construed as giving income tax advice.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

Read More