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Financial Elements' Insights

Latest news, updates and helpful advice

Check here regularly for Brenda's thoughts and insights on a variety of topics related to personal finance and investments.
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Tax Planning in Turbulent Times Part 3: Tax-Wise Financial Planning

In our last two pieces, we covered some tools of the tax-planning trade, as well as how to deploy them for tax-efficient investing. But tax planning isn’t just for your investments. Life happens. Often, we cannot predict its next moves. But we can weave each event into the tax-planning fabric of your financial life.

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Tax Planning in Turbulent Times Part 2: Tax-Wise Investment Techniques

In our last piece, we introduced some of the tools of the tax-planning trade. These include tax-sheltered accounts for saving toward retirement, healthcare, and education, as well as tax-efficient tools for charitable giving, emergency spending, and estate planning. It’s one thing to have the tools. It’s another to make best use of them. After all, the same paintbrush can create a valuable work of art, or a clashing mess on canvas. It all depends on how you use the brush. In other words, your tax-planning techniques matter at least as much as the tools. They’re also more enduring—especially if you combine them into a unified strategy across your varied financial interests. Tax breaks come and go, and are beyond our control. But with a tailored, tax-wise strategy in place, it’s easier to adjust as needed, rather than having to start all over whenever something changes.

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Is Inflation Haunting Your Financial Dreams? Part 1: What We Know

Has the specter of inflation got you spooked? Recent headlines are filled with sightings. In this two-part series, let’s take a closer look at what to make of all the commentary, and what you can do about it as an investor. First and foremost, we caution against succumbing to fear or panic in the face of inflation. As usual, careful planning remains your best guide.

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Holiday Gratitude in Unusual Times

Today, we break from financial conversations to celebrate the season with you. We know that’s going to be a tall order this year. After all, families have been coming together for millennia to gather around holiday tables. Counting their blessings. Mourning shared sorrows. Hugging one another tight.

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Presidential Election Reflection

Here’s an interesting puzzle: Why do we cringe at the sight or sound of breaking glass, but we salivate over breaking news? In the run-up to the U.S. presidential election, you’ve probably been hit by enough breaking news to propel you well into 2021. Predictions abound on who will prevail, and what will happen to our political, social, and economic landscape as a (supposedly) direct result. Come what may, the results will undoubtedly be attention-grabbing and action-packed. Social media and the popular press will see to that, as they feed on – and are fed by – our fascination with things that break.

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I was a Fiduciary Before it was Cool

The term fiduciary gets a lot of press lately. I often get asked by new clients if I am one. My response is that yes, I certainly am, and have always been... way before it was cool. There is a lot of confusion around the terminology these days. Bottom line for me is that it's my job to always put my clients' interests first... no question, nothing to think about, it's just always the case. Read on if you are curious why we hear so much more about it lately...

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Are you a Super Saver?

In 2018, the savings rate in the US was only about 7% of income and 40% of Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense. However, there are some “super savers” that save at least 20% of their income. Research from TD Ameritrade and The Principal show that two of the key factors in managing to save at this level or more every year are your mortgage and car payments.

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