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Time to check your progress toward your retirement goals

Scott-Johnson---HeadNow that another year is ending, it’s a good time to take stock of where you are on your journey toward financial security. Of course, you could find many different measuring sticks to assess your progress, but you can certainly gain considerable information by asking yourself some basic questions.
  Here are a few to consider:
  • How close am I to my retirement goals? Your comprehensive investment strategy should include a reasonably good estimate of how much money you will eventually need to sustain the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned. At least once a year, you should evaluate how much closer you’ve gotten to your goals than the year before.
  • Am I making sufficient progress toward my goals? When assessing your progress, try to determine if your portfolio is properly allocated between stocks, stock-based vehicles, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit and other investments. If you’re “overweighted” in a particular asset class, such as cash, you may be impeding your ability to move toward your goals.
  • Am I adhering to my investment strategy? To stick with your investment strategy, you need to invest at regular intervals and meet regularly with your financial professional to review your progress and make adjustments — such as rebalancing your portfolio — when necessary. Of course, even with regular progress reviews and portfolio rebalancing, it can be challenging, psychologically and emotionally, to stick with a strategy. For example, during any given year the financial markets could be down, and your results might be disappointing. Nonetheless, if you have built a diversified portfolio containing quality investments, and your portfolio is well suited to your own risk tolerance and time horizon, you don’t necessarily need to make changes following a down year in the markets.
  • What aspects of my life have changed in the past year? Your investment strategy should be based entirely on your individual needs and circumstances — so if these have changed during the past year, you may also have to adjust the way you invest. Consider any and all changes in your life — marriage, new children, divorce, remarriage, new job, new home, etc. — and then try to determine what impact these changes might have on your long financial strategy and if you need to adjust that strategy in response.
  • Have I changed my thinking on my retirement goals? Over time, you might undergo some changes in your thinking about retirement. For example, perhaps you’ve decided that you no longer want to retire early and travel the world. Instead, you’ve discovered a growing desire to open a small business or do some consulting. Any significant changes you make to your retirement plans will likely have a big effect on your savings and investment strategies, so you’ll want to incorporate these changes into your planning as soon as possible.
  By asking, and answering these questions at the end of each year, you should always have a good sense of where you are in pursuit of your long-term goals — and what you need to do to bring the realization of those goals closer to reality.

Scott Johnson, CFP, is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, 8146 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, 974-1965. Edward Jones does not provide legal advice. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

Sharing your bounty can be rewarding

  Thanksgiving is here. If you have the financial resources to provide a comfortable life for your family, you have reason to be thankful. And if you can afford to share some of your “bounty” with charitable organizations, you may want to be as generous as possible — because your gifts may allow you to both give and receive.
  By donating cash or other financial assets, such as stocks, to a qualified charity (either a religious group or a group that has received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS), you help benefit an organization whose work you believe in — and, at the same time, you can receive valuable tax benefits.
  To illustrate: If you give $100 to a qualified charity, and you’re in the 25 percent tax bracket, you can deduct $100, with a tax benefit of $25, when you file your 2013 taxes. Therefore, the real “cost” of your donation is just $75 ($100 minus the $25 tax savings).
  Furthermore, if you donate certain types of non-cash assets, you may be able to receive additional tax benefits. Suppose you give $1,000 worth of stock to a charitable group. If you’re in the 25 percent bracket, you’ll be able to deduct $250 when you file your taxes. And by donating the stock, you can avoid paying the capital gains taxes that would be due if you had eventually sold the stock yourself.
  To claim a charitable deduction, you have to be able to itemize deductions on your taxes. Charitable gifting can get more complex if you choose to integrate your charitable giving with your estate plans to help you reduce your taxable estate. The estate tax is consistently debated in Congress, and the exemption level has fluctuated in recent years, so it’s not easy to predict if you could eventually subject your heirs to these taxes. Nonetheless, you can still work with your tax and legal advisors now to take steps to reduce any possible estate tax burden in the years ahead.
  One such step might involve establishing a charitable remainder trust. Under this arrangement, you’d place some assets, such as appreciated stocks or real estate, in a trust, which could then use these assets to pay you a lifetime income stream.
  When you establish the trust, you may be able to receive a tax deduction based on the charitable group’s “remainder interest” — the amount the charity is likely to ultimately receive. (This figure is determined by an IRS formula.) Upon your death, the trust would relinquish the remaining assets to the charitable organization you’ve named. Keep in mind, though, that this type of trust can be complex. To establish one, you’ll need to work with your tax and legal advisors.
  Of course, you can also choose to provide your loved ones with monetary gifts while you’re still alive. You can give up to $14,000 per year, per individual, to as many people as you choose without incurring the gift tax. For example, if you have three children, you could give them a cumulative $42,000 in a single year — and so could your spouse.
  Thanksgiving is a fine time to show your generosity. And, as we’ve seen, being generous can be rewarding — for your recipients and yourself.

Scott Johnson, CFP, is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, 8146 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, 974-1965. Edward Jones does not provide legal advice. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

Facko back home to open dentistry

Submitted Photo. Richard Facko opened a dentistry in Palos Heights after spending time practicing in the western suburbs.Submitted Photo. Richard Facko opened a dentistry in Palos Heights after spending time practicing in the western suburbs.

Long-time Palos Heights resident, Richard N Facko opened the Palos Pediatric Dentistry, PC located at 12800 S. Ridgeland Ave., Suite H, in Palos Heights.

“Palos Heights is my home town, and I’m thrilled to be back home after practicing in the west suburbs,” said Facko. “The people of the Southwest suburbs have made me who I am today, and I’m proud to be able to give back to my own community. I think there is a lot of great opportunity for small business in Palos Heights. We have some of the best schools around, and that will always attract growing families to the area.”

By opening a new office location in Palos Heights, several jobs will be created in the area. Interested local residents are encouraged to visit www.palospediatricdentistry.com for information about Facko’s practice and about possibly employment opportunities.

Apple to make iPhone repairs in stores

Apple is gearing up to soon begin hardware repairs for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c in its chain of retail stores, according to sources with knowledge of the upcoming initiative. These sources say that Apple Stores will be able to replace several parts of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on-site, meaning that Apple will no-longer need to fully replace iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units with damage or other problems…

The sources say that Apple will be providing its stores with special machinery to replace the touchscreens on both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. These machines will be used specifically to calibrate the displays. The screen replacements cost $149 for each device, and this price point is significantly more affordable than the several-hundred dollars required to completely replace a device with a damaged/cracked screen.

In addition to displays, Apple will have the capability to replace the volume buttons, vibrating motor, rear-camera, and speaker system on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Apple Stores will be able to replace the conventional Home button on the iPhone 5c, but it does not appear that Apple will be able to conduct swaps for the Touch ID-based button on the iPhone 5s.

Short-term vs. long-term investments: What’s the difference?

At various times, many people may feel frustrated by the performance of their investments. For example, they expect growth, and they don’t get it — or they think the value of their investment won’t fluctuate much, but it does. However, some of this frustration might be alleviated if investors were more familiar with the nature of their investment vehicles. Specifically, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between long-term and short-term investments.

What defines long-term and short-term investments? Long-term investments are those vehicles that you intend to hold for more than one year — in fact, you generally intend to hold them for several years. On the other hand, you usually hold short-term investments for one year or less.