Inflation Variation, Eroding Purchasing Power

 
Inflation averaged 2.5% for the 30-year period from 1989 to 2018. Although the recent trend is below the long-term average, even moderate inflation can reduce purchasing power and cut into the real return on your investments.
 

Annual rate of inflation, based on change in the Consumer Price Index

 

Inflation Variation, Eroding Purchasing Power
 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019 (December year-over-year change in CPI-U)

What’s the real return on your investments?

 
What's the real return on your investments?As an investor, you probably pay attention to nominal return, which is the percentage increase or decrease in the value of an investment over a given period of time, usually expressed as an annual return. However, to estimate actual income or growth potential in order to target financial goals — for example, a certain level of retirement income — it’s important to consider the effects of taxes and inflation. The remaining increase or decrease is your real return.
 

Let’s say you want to purchase a bank-issued certificate of deposit (CD) because you like the lower risk and fixed interest rate that a CD can offer. Rates on CDs have risen, and you might find a two- or three-year CD that offers as much as 3% interest. That could be appealing, but if you’re taxed at the 22% federal income tax rate, roughly 0.66% will be gobbled up by federal income tax on the interest. Continue reading

Charitable Giving After Tax Reform

 
Charitable Giving After Tax ReformTax reform changes to the standard deduction and itemized deductions may affect your ability to obtain an income tax benefit from charitable giving. Projecting how you’ll be affected by these changes while there’s still time to take action is important.
 

Income tax benefit of charitable giving

 

If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can generally deduct your gifts to qualified charities. However, many itemized deductions have been eliminated or restricted, and the standard deduction has substantially increased. You can generally choose to take the standard deduction or to itemize deductions. As a result of the changes, far fewer taxpayers will be able to reduce their taxes by itemizing deductions. Continue reading

Managing Your Money in a Gig Economy

Managing Your Money in a Gig Economy
 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.5 million people rely on contingent or alternative work arrangements for their income.1 Often referred to as the “gig economy,” these nontraditional or contingent work arrangements include independent contractors, on-call and temp agency workers, and those who sign up for on-demand labor through smartphone apps.
If you are a contingent worker, you need to pay close attention to your finances in order to make up for any gaps in earnings that may occur between jobs. In addition, you’ll have to plan ahead for health-care costs, taxes, and saving for retirement, since you will have to shoulder these expenses on your own. The following are some tips for managing your money in a gig economy.

 
 

Prepare for slower periods between jobs

 

While establishing a cash reserve is an integral part of any financial strategy, it is especially important for contingent workers. You’ll want to set aside enough money to cover unexpected expenses and large bills that may come due during slower months between jobs. A good strategy is to make it a habit to deposit a portion of your income in your cash reserve.
 
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Time for a Mid-Year Investment Check

 
Time for a Mid-Year Investment CheckMany investors may be inclined to review their portfolios only when markets hit a rough patch, but careful planning is essential in all economic climates. So whether the markets are up or down, periodically reviewing your portfolio with your financial professional can be an excellent way to keep your investments on track, and midway through the year is a good time for a checkup. Here are three questions to consider.
 

1. How have my investments performed so far this year?

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