Archive for the ‘personal finance’ Category

Wes Moss: Is your money safe during a market shutdown?

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB

Imagine visiting your bank on a weekday morning to make a withdrawal only to be told you could not access your money until further notice. That would cause you some anxiety, wouldn’t it? That’s exactly what happened to investors this past week.

In a rare occurrence, the New York Stock Exchange and other major stock exchanges were closed on Monday and Tuesday thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Flooding, power outages and subway closures made it impossible for Wall Streeters to get to work.

While the vast majority of stock trading is now done electronically, human beings are still critical to that process — no people, no trading. And no trading means no access to your money. Once a skeleton crew was able to reach the Exchange, trading was back up and …

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Wes Moss: Teacher retirement deadline looming

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Hey GA Teachers, Listen Up!

The deadline to make this call is fast approaching. I decided to re-post this today, because I’ve talked to three teachers this morning who are contemplating this very issue.

Work past 2012 and suffer a three percent tax on your pension income or pull the trigger now and be grandfathered in? Either way, here’s the situation, keep reading…

Georgia teachers are among the state’s richest citizens. If you’re an educator, you may chuckle at that notion, but it’s true. First, teachers derive great emotional wealth from their work, which shapes our young people and, as a result, our future.

Second, they have a killer dual-engine retirement program.

Georgia’s Teacher Retirement System (TRS) …

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Wes Moss: How will markets prevail post-election?

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

The coming Presidential election is among the most anticipated in recent memory. The issues are big and urgent, voters are worried and angry and the differences between the candidates are sharp.

While political junkies are in heaven right now, investors are in, well, not heaven. The uncertainty generated by the election has stymied both business activity and investment markets.

Regardless of the outcome, the markets will be relieved once the election is over.

Once the votes have been counted, business leaders and investors will have at least a broad sense of where the government is headed on fiscal policy and other key issues such as regulation and taxes. Whether investors agree or disagree with the winner’s policies, they will welcome the certainty …

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Wes Moss: Main Street investors finally get a break

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

There is a new race to the bottom on Wall Street, and for once that’s a good thing. Charles Schwab last week said it is going to lower the expense ratios on its ETFs — exchange-traded funds, similar to mutual funds — which are already low to begin with. This announcement comes a few weeks after Blackrock, the parent company of iShares, said it plans to make strategic expense cuts on some of its ETFs.

Schwab and Blackrock are slashing fees in an effort to remain cost competitive against Vanguard, which is the low-cost leader in the ETF marketplace. This is great news for investors for two reasons. Most obviously, lower fees will boost portfolio performance by allowing investors to keep more of what they earn.

But perhaps more importantly, the downward …

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Wes Moss: How would a ‘fiscal cliff’ affect you?

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

You’ve probably heard of the “fiscal cliff” our economy could face at year’s end. If Congress doesn’t address several tax issues, $540 billion would be sucked out of our pockets and into government coffers. Congress’ own financial analysts have warned this would almost certainly trigger a recession in 2013.

This could cause other problems for the stock market and investors. A big part of this tax increase – about $220 billion — would come from expiration of the Bush tax cuts, including what amounts to a hike in taxes on capital gains and dividends.

Dividends currently get preferential tax treatment: The highest tax you now pay on a traditional stock dividend is 15 percent — even if you are in the 35 percent income tax bracket. The same …

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Avoid Atlanta’s high bank fees

Do you ever feel like your bank is getting over on you? Now you have proof.

Banks in Atlanta charge their own customers more to use an out-of-network ATM than banks in any other city except Philadelphia. Atlanta banks also have the third-highest average charges for overdraft fees.

The percentage of free checking accounts offered by banks is dropping as well — only 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts are free of charge.

There are also some sneaky fees banks charge that could sneak by you:

Offline help: I discovered this not long ago when I strolled up to a teller window for assistance. Um, no. That would have cost about $3, but they waived the fee due to my ignorance. My solution was to stick with ATM transactions but we know how far that gets you in Atlanta.

Mobile deposits:  Some banks have now introduced apps for mobile check deposits, which is cool now that I own a smartphone, but if they aren’t already charging for this convenience, some banks may introduce fees …

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Wes Moss: Some guidelines for charitable giving

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Georgians are incredibly generous. We give about $4.8 billion to charity every year. While much of that comes from major philanthropists and foundations, state residents give an average of $3,396 a year to worthy causes. That’s an average of 6.2 percent of our discretionary income — comparing very favorably with the 3.2 percent national average.

Giving makes us feel good — like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, something that might outlast us. For wealthy families, giving can also be an important part of tax and estate planning strategy.

Making a smart charitable contribution is a lot like planning for retirement. Some tips from Georgia-based philanthropic advisor Eileen Snow Price:

• Clarify your values: What causes and issues are …

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Wes Moss: The investing gender gap

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Who’s better suited to handle family investments: a man or a woman? Careful, science — and your partner — might not support your answer.

A recent survey by U.S. Trust of about 650 adults found nearly 75 percent of wealthy husbands say they are more qualified than their wives to make investment decisions. Roughly the same percentage of those surveyed have what they believe to be “majority control” of their family’s retirement funds and investments.

But almost all the research on this topic indicates women are better equipped to make investment decisions. Most studies show men are willing to take on larger investment-related risk, which can lead to larger losses when things don’t work out. Women tend to be …

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Wes Moss: Six important rules for investing

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

I’m a big fan of Vanguard Group founder John Bogle. I can’t think of anyone in the investment world with a better record for divining market trends and their impact on investors.

So it got my attention when Bogle recently said he believes we are facing the most difficult investment environment of his long career. An anemic economy, poor financial industry oversight and a Wall Street culture of greed are among his big concerns. But what most bothers Bogle is today’s shortened investor time horizons. He notes our post-World War II habit of long-term investing has given way to a “culture of short-term speculation.”

A study by Strategas RP supports Bogle’s theory, tracking the steady drop in the average holding period for stocks, from 8.3 …

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Wes Moss: Where can I really get a free credit check?

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB

Flipping around the TV the other night, I came across yet another new ad for freecreditscore.com — you know, the one with that shaggy guitar player and his annoying band? I suppose it’s a good commercial because I remember it, but what about the product? Are such “free” offers really free?

There are dozens of sites with similar offers. They promise to give you a free credit report, and/or your credit score, usually when you sign up for a free trial of their credit monitoring service. The credit report is a listing of the recent activity related to your credit, including loan balances, open accounts and any legal action taken against you related to borrowing.

Want a new credit card? A lower insurance bill? A better loan rate on a car or home? Your …

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