Chornyak & Associates

February 2019

A 401(k) can be an excellent investment vehicle to drive your retirement plan. But it is helpful to look at the balance of investments while using these plans. Our lead story addresses 10 Strategies to Maximize your 401(k) Balance.

The new Tax Law creates some opportunities to reconsider how to best meet your charitable giving goals in 2019 while taking advantage of tax code changes. Our second story should help you plan your 2019 giving strategy.

This month's "What's Happening Now" section shares interesting stories on what the guy who started Atari and Chuck E. Cheese is now doing, how Apple plans to bring their Watch to private Medicare plans, and what are the Best Airline Reward Programs.

We'd like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us by phone at 614-888-2121, toll-free 877-389-2121 or e-mail with any questions or comments.

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10 Strategies to Maximize your 401(k) Balance

10 Strategies to Maximize your 401(k) Balance

AT A TIME WHEN MOST people don't have a traditional pension, growing and then protecting your 401(k) balance is essential for a secure retirement. Pay close attention to 401(k) rules to make sure fees, taxes and other mistakes don't unnecessarily reduce your 401(k) balance. Here are 10 ways to make the most of your 401(k) plan:

Don't accept the default savings rate. New employees are increasingly likely to be automatically signed up for a retirement account at work, most often by having 3 percent of their pay deposited in their company's 401(k) plan. But saving 3 percent of your salary, while certainly better than no savings, may not be adequate to maintain your current lifestyle in retirement. "For a lot of people, that is not going to be enough," says Michele Clark, a certified financial planner for Clark Hourly Financial Planning in Chesterfield, Missouri. "When you get a raise, save 1 percent more every year until you can get up to hopefully 20 percent of your pay." Read More

Planning Your Charitable Giving for 2019

Planning Your Charitable Giving for 2019

A new year has begun. It's time to evaluate what worked well for you financially in 2018 and whether you need to make any changes for 2019. As you do that, you'll want to put together a plan for this year's charitable giving.

A good place to start the process is to consider the following items:

  1. Review your donations for 2018 and how you made them. How much would you like to donate in 2019?
  2. Did you exceed the standard deduction and itemize your taxes for the 2018 tax year? Do you anticipate exceeding the standard deduction and itemizing your taxes for 2019?
  3. Are you age 70 1/2 or older? Do you have an IRA or inherited IRA?

Charitable giving strategies to consider

Next, you'll want to decide on a strategy for this year's giving. Maybe one or multiple strategies can work together to create an effective plan to benefit your favorite charities. Below are several strategies to mull over.

Group your charitable contributions together. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 brought us a higher standard deduction. Unless you have enough deductions to itemize above the standard deduction threshold, you may not be able to deduct your charitable contributions. Therefore, in combination with other deductions, you might want to consider grouping multiple years of charitable contributions together into a single year to generate a deduction larger than the standard amount.

Contribute to a donor-advised fund (DAF). If you are interested in grouping charitable deductions together but would prefer spreading the distributions to charities out over a period of years, a DAF may be an option for you. Read More

What's Happening Now

This Guy Founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Apple to Bring Watch with Private Medicare Plans Best Airline Miles Programs for Award Flights

Market Update

New year kicks off with stock market rebound

Markets around the world had a great start to the year, with almost everything going up. Here in the U.S., the Nasdaq Composite led the pack with a return of 9.79 percent. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) were close behind with returns of 8.01 percent and 7.29 percent, respectively. These gains helped offset the losses in December and led to the best January in years.

One of the drivers of this market rebound was continued earnings growth. According to FactSet, with 22 percent of companies reporting, the blended average earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 for the fourth quarter is 10.9 percent (as of January 25, 2019). This figure would represent the fifth straight quarter of double-digit earnings growth. It would also be well above analyst forecasts. Still, it may be the last quarter of double-digit growth for a while. Analysts are currently forecasting low single-digit growth for the next three quarters.

From a technical perspective, all three major U.S. indices moved closer to their 200-day moving averages in January. The DJIA finished the month above its trend line, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished near their respective moving averages. U.S. markets have been below these important technical levels since early in the fourth quarter of 2018. As such, a sustained break above them would be a positive development, indicating that investors’ views on the U.S. have become more positive.

The international story was much the same. The MSCI EAFE Index gained 6.57 percent in January. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fared even better, with a gain of 8.78 percent. In fact, this gain was enough to bring the index above its 200-day moving average at month-end for the first time since May 2018. The developed market index remained below its trend line. Read More