Monthly e-News

Can You Handle an Unexpected Expense?

By:  Raymond Kirk, Ph. D., Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  April 20, 2018


You had an unexpected car repair; a squirrel got into your attic, your water heater ruptured.  Sudden unplanned expenses can play havoc with your budget and you are not alone.  More than one-third of households (34 percent) endured a major unexpected expense over the past year, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index survey.

Only 39 percent said they could cover a $1,000 expense with savings.  A quarter of the households would borrow from friends or cut back on other regular monthly expenses.  One out of five would use a credit card and pay off over time, making the total cost even greater.  Your best protection is to have an emergency savings fund as a cushion.

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TSP Versus IRA: Which is Better?

By:  Karen Schaeffer, Certified Financial Planner®

Published:  March 20, 2018


So, which is better, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)? Such a deceptively simple question can fill countless, “well, it depends” paragraphs without getting to an answer.  Rather than ramble on about endless variables, lets walk through some of the strengths of each, trying to keep in mind the correct answer might:

  • Be both instead of either/or;
  • Differ based on whether we’re in the accumulation phase or the spending phase of life; and
  • Be different for you than for someone else – its personal financial planning after all.

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January 2018: Twelve Weeks to Better Health

By:  Kari Utz-Wolsky, Nutrition and Conditioning Specialist

Published:  January 19, 2018

As we head into the New Year, many of us desire to make positive health changes.  And for those who make New Years resolutions, a large majority of these goals revolve around diet and/or exercise.  We may hope to give up poor habits, or embark on a new exercise routine.  Or possibly we even hope to make a complete overhaul to our nutrition plan.  Unfortunately, the odds are not in our favor.  Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! Continue reading

December 2017: 10 Common Financial Mistakes to Avoid in the New Year

By:  Justin B. Dean, CFP®

Published:  December 20, 2017

Everyone makes mistakes. Learning from them is what really matters.  Consider these common money mistakes and tips to move past them:

  1. “I live within my means. If I have anything left over after paying my bills, I put it in my savings account.” If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Develop a well-defined strategy to ensure you are making intentional decisions with your money. Having a plan to follow can help increase your chances of sticking to it.  Continue reading

November 2017: Dual Retirements – The Time In Between

By: Michael Townshend

Published:  November 20, 2017

“We have both been working for many years and our retirements are approaching. Hooray!”

But, we’ve realized that our eligibility dates won’t coincide, often, not even close.  Is that going to be a problem?  Are there ways to prepare for the time in between when one of us is still working while the other is at home enjoying retirement?”

These are not uncommon questions. Many couples with dual careers realize that they will not be able to retire simultaneously.  In fact, most dual retirement horizons will have some period in between.  Continue reading

October 2017: Flexible Spending Accounts

By:  Raymond Kirk, Ph.D., Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  October 20, 2017


Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) give employees the opportunity to save hundreds, potentially thousands, of dollars a year on health care and dependent care expenses. Yet, fewer than 20% of employees take advantage of them. There are two types of FSAs: Health Care (HCFSA) and Dependent Care (DCFSA). Both operate the same way.  Employees have money withheld from their pay and deposited in their FSA accounts. When you have eligible expenses they are paid out of the money withheld from your pay. The benefit is the money is put into your FSA account on a pre-tax basis and you never have to pay the taxes.

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September 2017: Essential Documents for Young Adults

By: Karen Schaeffer, CFP®
Published: September 20, 2017
By now the members of the high school class of 2017 heading for college or a gap year are finally getting settled. Families across the country are tearing up the check lists from Bed, Bath and Beyond, putting the last box of forgotten items in the mail and starting to enjoy the calm that a slightly emptier nest can bring.  But there is likely one more essential financial planning task that needs attention. Our 18-year-old pseudo adults are real adults in the eyes of the law and we need them to sign very adult-like documents:  a health care proxy with a HIPAA release and a durable power of attorney.   Without them, if a student is incapacitated – even for a short period of time – no one can make healthcare or financial decisions on their behalf without a court order.

August 2017: 2017 Tax Planning is Best Completed Before January 1, 2018

By:  Bob Leins, CPA

Published: August 30, 2017

September is an ideal time to project your 2017 income tax liability.

Begin by projecting your 2017 sources of income, deductions and tax withholding:

  • Use the same tax software used to prepare your 2016 Tax Return(s)
  • If your 2016 return(s) were prepared for you – please review them first and then contact your tax professional and ask for a “2017 tax projection”
  • Self-prepared returns should follow the same procedures but use 2017 tax rates (2017 tax rates were determined in late Fall 2016)

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