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Based on recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers, the IRS and Social Security Administration have announced their 2016 limits. Social Security Social Security benefits will not see a cost-of-living increase for 2016. For those individuals receiving Social Security benefits prior to Full Retirement Age (FRA) for Social Security, the earnings limit remains at $15,720. For every $2 in earnings above the limit, $1 in SS benefits will be withheld. For new Medicare recipients, the cost of Medicare Part B is likely to be significantly higher. Because of the lack of a Cost-of-Living increase in existing SS benefits, many of those already on Medicare will not see an increase in their Part B premiums due to a long-standing hold harmless rule. Therefore, the increase in Medicare costs will have to be shouldered primarily by new Medicare recipients and high income recipients, unless Congress takes additional action to control these increases. For employees, Social Security and Medicare tax withholding are as follows: Social Security taxes will be withheld at a rate of 6.2% for employees up to a wage base of $118,500, Read on! →
Part 1 of this series addressed how parents and family members can sometimes influence a child’s choice of schools through words and actions. Part 2 focused on the myriad of choices and how to assist a child in narrowing the selection to those best suited to help achieve vocation goals. The final segment of this 3 part series will attempt to outline options to think about when paying for a college education. While it may be possible to cover the entire cost of a child and their siblings’ education, it might be worth considering other options that involve the child. If possible, shifting the responsibility of paying for college to a child and the accompanying debt burden should be avoided. However, requiring the child to share in paying for some of the cost by working or securing grants and loans may increase the student’s motivation to do well and finish on time or early. It might also improve their awareness of what an education costs and reinforce positive views on the responsibility that comes with participating in and repaying some Read on! →
Children are often influenced in ways that are not always obvious. As mentioned in part 1 of this 3 part series on planning for college, family conversations about fond college memories and experiences, likely occur long before a child narrows their choice about where to apply and enroll. Children will also be influenced by friends and their ideas or maybe where a teacher encourages them to explore. Ideally, they consider their intellectual and vocational gifts and settle on a few schools that align well with their longer term professional or vocational aspirations. All the while, parents may be trying to gauge how much feedback to give and wondering whether their financial preparations will be sufficient to cover the costs of their child’s choice. Before leapfrogging to the subject of how the cost will be reconciled with resources, first let’s address how a parent can best approach helping a child explore options. While children may be influenced by similar factors, every child is unique and very likely to make decisions based on different objective and subjective criteria. Add to this, a Read on! →
Greece had been edging towards an exit of the Eurozone. Global market risk, while elevated from the news, had generally suggested that the direct outcome of this event would be limited / falling well short of anything that would constitute a genuine crisis. China, on the other hand, has emerged as a much more substantial issue with the weakness in the local Chinese market spilling into Hong Kong and global equity markets. Until matters stabilize in China this will certainly continue to be the main driver of financial markets, and even the impact of a favorable end to the Greek mess would likely be overwhelmed by a continuation of the intense liquidation of Chinese equities. Greek Tragedy; The Greek people voted overwhelmingly against accepting the June 25 plan offered by its creditors. The “No” vote doesn’t necessarily mean Greece will exit the Eurozone but the potential had increased. This was a shock to the markets in that it was assumed the people would vote yes. Eurozone leaders made Greece surrender much of its sovereignty to outside supervision in return for Read on! →
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled End-of-Life Talk Proposed as New Medicare Benefit highlighted an issue encountered as patients approach the very end of their lives. While there may be doctors who are willing to discuss end of life plans with their patients, they are not currently being reimbursed by Medicare for the time they spend in these important discussions. Does this result in doctors opting out of these conversations altogether, or they are waiting until it is essentially too late to talk about it? A Frontline special a few months ago highlighted the fact that many doctors continue to pursue medical options to the very end of a patient’s life, even when there is no hope and when continued treatment creates additional physical trauma for patients and their families. Obviously doctors have the ultimate goal of healing their patients, but when the end is inevitable, lack of training has been cited as one of the reasons many medical doctors never have end-of-life discussions with their patients. While we may not be able to control whether or not Read on! →