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The Planned Solutions, Inc. Blog is your one stop shop for all your financial planning advice and news to keep you up to date with your financial goals.  If you would like to subscribe to our email newsletter which includes blog posts plus extra announcements, please email [email protected]

 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A recent survey of investment managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch shows that they are becoming more pessimistic. In fact, according to the most recent survey, pessimism is at its highest level since late 2011 with nearly a...

 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Revocable Living Trusts provide the grantor(s) of the trust (the individuals who create the trust and provide the assets that fund the trust) the flexibility to make changes throughout their lifetime. The assets of a Revocable Living...

 

Friday, September 28, 2018

US interest rates have increased this year as the Federal Reserve continues to hike short-term rates and investors demand higher returns on longer-term lending. This has pushed the yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond, a key interest...

 

Friday, September 21, 2018

The US Conference Board announced that consumer confidence reached a cyclical high in August of 133.4. This is the highest reading since October 2000 following the boom years of the late 1990s. This is a strong sign that consumers are...

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning document used to transfer one’s property effectively and efficiently upon one’s passing. Many families and individuals establish a Revocable Living Trust to avoid the probate...

 

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Monday, September 17, 2018

It is important to avoid making investment decisions purely on the basis of fees. It is more important to make sure the investment fits the investment objectives, long-term goals, and diversification target for the investment portfolio.

 

Friday, September 14, 2018

The House Ways and Means committee has released the details of a second tax bill that is largely designed to help Americans save for their future. Naturally, the bill is just a draft and will likely go through a number of changes and...

 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Many people do not realize that Medicare Part B and Part D premiums are means tested until it is too late.

 

Friday, August 31, 2018

The US stock market recently set yet another milestone -according to the methodology used by some financial analysts the current bull market is the longest recorded. It has now been 9.5 years since the stock market bottom in March of 2009.

 

Friday, March 23, 2018

We are often asked how long an individual should keep their income tax records.

 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Under the new tax law, many taxpayers will not benefit, or benefit very little, form the mortgage interest tax deduction.

 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

One of the tax deductions that can be the most difficult to track is the Vehicle License Fee paid to a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Many taxpayers who engage in a Roth conversion (transferring money from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA) are unaware of the option to undo the conversion if needed. The process of undoing a Roth IRA conversion is called a Roth IRA recharact

 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

US stocks have outperformed foreign stocks by a wide margin over the past several years. This has led to reduced returns for well-diversified portfolios which typically hold 30-40% of their stock allocation in foreign stocks. However, this

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Trump administration appears to be shifting gears away from health care reform and immigration issues to focus on tax reform. Trump recently announced that his admin-istration will be announcing the broad outline for tax reform this wee

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Taxpayers who are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA may still be able to invest in a Roth IRA. The process, called a Roth Conversion, involves transferring money from a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. However, it is important to not

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The first round of the French Presidential election occurred on Sunday. The election narrowed the field to just two candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Macron, who represents the pro-globalization and pro-Euro view, received the

 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The March Federal Reserve minutes contained several statements expressing concern about the high level of stock prices compared to valuation factors, such as company earnings. This could be a sign that the Fed is becoming concerned about th

 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Roth IRA is a valuable tax and retirement planning tool. Contributions to a Roth IRA do not give an income tax deduction but the distributions are tax-free in retirement. In some cases taxpayers can contribute to a Roth IRA directly, wh

 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Federal Reserve faces a difficult task in normalizing its interest rate policy. Not only will the Fed need to increase short-term rates at a pace that will not tip the economy into recession, but it will also have to shrink its holdings

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The high level of household debts in the US is showing up on the financial statements of deceased individuals. According to a recent study, 73% of Americans carry some form of debt when they pass away. The average amount of debt is $61,554

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It is an unfortunate fact that the US tax withholding system is not very effective. This can lead to large refunds or large amounts owed depending on an individual’s situation. In addition, when income changes from year to year, the a

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The stock market has posted strong returns since the presidential election. Much of this has been fueled by investor optimism over the prospects for corporate tax reform and reduced regulation on certain industries. However, given the failu

 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The January inflation date exceeded 2% for the first time in many years. One of the major contributing factors was the year-over-year increase in oil prices from January 2016 to January 2017. However, oil prices have declined by 13% in the

 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) are personal investment accounts that allow individuals to save for retirement in a tax-advantaged manor. There are two types of IRAs, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Each comes with a different set

 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It is tax time again. This makes it a great time to review where the federal government actually spends our tax dollars. The largest spending categories are Social Security (33%), Medicare (27%), and military (16%). The next in line is inte

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

We are often asked how long an individual should keep their income tax records. The general answer is that the IRS has three years from the due date of a tax return to review or audit the return. After the three year statute of limitations,

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

US household debt is once again near its 2008 peak. A rebound in auto debt and student loan debt has led the increase in household debt. Meanwhile, the increase in mortgage debt, the largest segment of household debt, has increased slowly a

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Official US data shows a strong increase in both retail sales and inflation in January. This contributed to a year-over-year increase of 5.6% for retail sales and 2.5% for consumer prices. Energy prices were a large contributor to both reta

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Housing prices continued to increase in 2016. Prices continued their upward trend despite an increase in interest rates over the past six months of the year. While rising interest rates can be a negative for housing prices, there are others

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The average cost of a wedding increased nearly 10% to $35,329 in 2016. When the average cost of the honeymoon of $3,400 is added, the total cost of getting hitched is now nearly $40,000. In addition, the couple (or their parents) are increa

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

As a reminder, our biweekly newsletter is available via a podcast hosted by Planned Solutions. The podcast is available on the Apple podcast App and on Andriod devices via Google Play.   Search Planned Solutions on your podcast ap

 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

People tend to think in terms of extremes. As our environment changes, our outlook for the future changes, causing us to alter our behavior in response. We tend to ignore the benefits from moderation, which requires a longer-term view and a

 

Friday, February 17, 2017

One important income tax deduction for many taxpayers is the personal income tax exemption. In 2016 taxpayers can claim a deduction of $4,050 for each taxpayer or dependent listed on their return. However, it is important to make sure that

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Federal Reserve Governor John Williams was the keynote speaker at the Sacramento Business Review this year. During his presentation he made a case for the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, of which he is a voting member, to increase in

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finally broke through the 20,000 level in late January. In anticipation of the event many news outlets have published stories about what large round numbers on major market indices mean. In reality, the 20,0

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Individuals who have an IRA and are over age 70 ½ or who inherit an IRA may be subject to Required Minimum Dist-ributions (RMDs). This is a minimum amount that must be withdrawn which is based on the value of the account and an age fac

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chase recently participated in the Sacramento Business Review (SBR) economic forecasting event. The SBR focuses on the factors that are driving the economy of the Sacramento Region including labor market growth, residential and commercial r

 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

In preparation for the upcoming tax season, we mailed out tax organizers to all of our tax preparation clients last week.   If you did not receive a tax organizer but are interested in having Planned Solutions prepare your income

 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 increased 3% last year to over $233,000. The increase was largely driven by an increase in housing costs, which can account for nearly one-third

 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Last year the stock market started the year out on a sour note after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates in December 2015. This year many expected the same reaction following the Fed’s December 2016 rate increase. However, th

 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The holidays are often a time when people are more motivated to give to charity. In addition to the good feeling that charitable donations can bring, they may also qualify for a tax deduction. However, the IRS rules are complicated. So if a

 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mortgage rates are on the rise. Mortgage brokers are now changing their tactics away from emphasizing lower rates to focusing on shortening the term of the mortgage. Often the message is that refinancing to a 15 year mortgage will result in

 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The IRS recently released the retirement and Social Security contribution limits for 2017. Many of these limits are adjusted for inflation, subject to certain minimum adjustment amounts. Therefore, some of the limits increased this year whi

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

As a reminder, our biweekly newsletter is available via a podcast hosted by Planned Solutions. The podcast is available on the Apple podcast App, on Andriod devices via Google Play, and on a desktop computer through SoundCloud.com. Just sea

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A recent poll by BankRate.com shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans report that they are pulling back on spending. Given that approximately 70% of US economic growth is personal consumption spending, this may be an indication of slow ec

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Little about the current economic cycle has conformed to historical norms. The employment recovery proved to be sluggish compared to past cycles. Interest rates have been held at low levels for most of a decade. And many historical economic

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Affordable Care Act, with its broad and diverse set of new regulations, has been a challenge for individuals and business leaders. It has also been a challenge for the IRS, the agency tasked with enforcing the law. This has led to confu

 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Several central banks around the world have pushed interest rates into negative territory. If they continue to decrease rates, it may cause savers to hoard cash which offers zero return rather than negative returns. This could put a limit o

 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fixed Indexed Annuities have gained popularity following the financial crisis. Clients are often drawn to these products for principal protection. Financial advisors often sell them because they pay high commissions. However, many clients w

 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

S&P 500 earnings rebounded slightly in the second quarter. This ended a six quarter (18 month) streak in which the trailing 12 month earnings for the S&P 500 declined. However, despite the small rebound, S&P 500 earning are now

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bipartisan financial research arm of the US Congress, recently announced that the US budget deficit is projected to increase in 2016. This will be the first year since 2009 in which the budget defi

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Peer-to-Peer money transfer services in which individuals transfer money to each other without using a traditional bank intermediary are becoming more popular. These services can be a good way to transfer money quickly without incurring hig

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports for both the services and manufacturing sectors of the U.S. economy declined sharply from July to August. The reports showed declines in several sub-indexes including new orders, business ac

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

One of the themes to watch this earnings season is the reduction in stock buyback announce-ments. So far, stock buyback announcement have totaled just $1.6 billion dollars. This is a four year low and well below the average of $50 billion p

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Individuals who utilize a high deductible health insurance plan may be able to make tax deductible contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA). Health Savings Accounts can be used to fund medical expenses that are not covered by insuran

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Many people believe that they are not saving enough to fund their retirement income needs. Of those surveyed, a large portion said they will plan to work into their retirement years to subsidize their income should their savings prove insuf

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Some people choose to forgo signing up for Medicare part D when they become eligible for Medicare. Part D covers prescription drugs which may not be a large concern for a healthy 65 year old. However, those who do not sign up for part D whe

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Despite expectations that Federal Reserve money creation would lead to hyperinflation, official inflation rates have been below the historical average since the Great Recession.  This is partly due to the deflationary pressure that dec

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which sets short-term interest rates in the US, voted to maintain its target of between 0.25% and 0.50% in July. The committee’s official statement referenced stronger economic data in the US

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Housing data has continued to be strong. Home prices as well as new home sales, starts, and permits have all been strong. This is likely the result of a housing shortage which has created a supply-demand imbalance. Even at current rates, th

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Low interest rates and below average stock returns have created a challenge for the nation’s pension systems. Many pension systems, including CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension system, are now underfunded by a wide margin. Th

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Charles Dow, the creator of the Dow Jones Industrial and Transportation averages is also known for Dow Theory. Dow Theory states that transportation companies often foreshadow changes in the overall economy and therefore should be watched c

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mortgage rates have declined significantly following the Brexit vote. US Treasury bonds rates or are now at a historic low. This decline is evident in mortgage rates, which are now at levels not seen since 2013. If you still have a mortgage

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A recent study shows the average IRA account balance by age. It highlights the fact that the average American has not saved enough to maintain their standard of living in retirement. There are a variety of reasons for this shortfall, only o

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The ninth key to financial happiness is to have a sufficient emergency fund. Financial emergencies can lead to stress. Not having an emergency fund can lead to feelings of financial instability. Building up and maintaining an emergency fund

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The UK is scheduled to vote on Thursday, June 23rd as to whether the UK should leave the European Union (EU). While the vote was primarily triggered due to concerns about EU migration policies, it could have short-term and long-term implica

 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The eighth key to financial happiness is to save more and avoid using debt for purchases that will not offset future expenses or increase future income. This may require deferring personal consumption expenditures until after saving the mon

 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

According to official data the US economy added just 38,000 jobs in May, well below economist estimates. In addition, the March and April job numbers were revised downward potentially signaling weakness in the labor market. While one month

 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

There has been a lot of talk in the media about the possibility of another Federal Reserve interest rate hike in June. Interest rates are a popular topic in the financial press because they have a large and diverse impact on the economy and

 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The seventh key to financial happiness is to make sure that you have a plan to fund your financial needs, both now and in retirement, before spending a significant amount of your financial resources on wants. Failing to fund your needs will

 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Interest rates in Europe and Japan are negative, with bank depositors and bonds investors actually paying institutions to hold their money. In the US, real interest rates (interest rates less the rate of inflation) also turned negative rece

 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The sixth key to financial happiness is to avoid spending more than you can afford. This may seem simple in theory but can be difficult to do in practice. The key is to calculate the amount that you can afford to spend after funding other f