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What's Happening Now

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Are you planning a beach vacation this summer?  Here are the ten best beaches in the U.S., ranked.

Can you afford to raise a child in America?  Here's what it costs.


Are you nearing retirement? If so, don't choose one of these 15 states to settle in. 

Ever wonder what happens to half-used hotel soap

Nineteen items you should consider purchasing at the dollar store. 


Why you should sell your car instead of trading it in.

Top 10 green energy technologies and solutions for home improvement.


What are the five things that you should never purchase at Best Buy? 

Do you worry about credit card debt?  Here are eight creative ways to pay it off.


Ten signs you're taking too many pills.


Planning to travel soon?  How well do you know your airline rights?

June 2017

We have some interesting and important articles for you this month!
Commonwealth Financial network, for example, introduces us to the concept of "digital assets." Have you considered what will become of your online personal documents, accounts, photos, and social media after you pass on?  This article tells you how to plan for digital assets as part of your estate. 

Concerning the key issue of keeping records, mydollarplan.com gives guidelines for how long to save documents such as certificates, contribution records, licenses, titles, receipts, manuals, warranties, policies, statements, tax records, etc. Many of us tend to keep papers much longer than necessary.  

What happens to your credit score if you miss a payment on your credit card account?  What is the cost of raising a child? Should you sell your car on your own?  Where should you go for a beach vacation? - All of these questions and more are answered in our What's Happening Now section on the left. 

We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter. Please let us know by contacting us with any questions or comments:  614-888-2121 or 877-389-2121 toll free , or by e-mail at chornyak@chornyak.com

Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness: What you should know  
From Commonwealth Financial Network:  Most of us maintain at least some personal and financial information online. We pay bills online, keep contact records digitally, and rarely print a photo-because it's in our online photo album. Although this digitizing of information makes it easier to store and recall, it also presents some concerns when it comes to accounting for all of these "assets" in your estate. 
What are digital assets?

First, let's define digital assets. These include your online financial accounts, your personal e-mail accounts, and your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. The assets may or may not have a value. For example, you might own a domain name for your small business, which would have value, but the photos you uploaded to Shutterfly have sentimental value only.
The problem with digital assets in estate planning

With traditional estate planning, you take steps to ensure that your executor or personal representative can access the information needed to gather and safeguard your assets, contact creditors, and, if necessary, oversee your business after your passing. This can be especially challenging with digital assets, however, if you do not arrange the proper authorization ahead of time.

Your executor should be able to access information on your computer's hard drive relatively easily with the help of a technician. But this may not be the case for online accounts and data stored remotely. Even if you give your usernames and passwords to your executor or a family member, he or she may run up against service-agreement limitations that deny him or her the ability to access, manage, distribute, copy, delete, or even close accounts. Further, "unauthorized use" laws can lead to legal issues for your representatives if they are deemed to have exceeded permissible access levels.
New legal statute may ease access concerns

Fortunately, lawmakers are starting to pay attention. A new statute, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), addresses whether and how a family member, executor, attorney-in-fact, or trustee can access digital assets. Sixteen states have already adopted RUFADAA: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The hope is that more will soon follow.

RUFADAA is different from state laws governing estate administration, powers of attorney, and trusts. It does not presume that family members and fiduciaries can access digital assets because of their relationship with the account owner. Instead, the statute requires express authorization before anyone-family member or fiduciary-may access the content of a digital asset.
So what can you do now to start organizing your digital assets?
  • Decide how you want your online life handled after your death. Facebook, for example, allows a personal administrator or immediate family member to close the account or "memorialize" it. This may help ease your loved ones' pain during a time of grief. Consider creating instructions for a family member to do this, or something similar, on your social media accounts. You may assign different roles to different people. For example, you may decide to appoint one person as your executor and another to have access to certain social media accounts.

  • Create a comprehensive inventory of your digital assets. Be sure to store this inventory somewhere other than an e-mail account. Some e-mail providers, like Yahoo!, will close an account that has been inactive for several months and delete the e-mail history. Even if an executor promptly contacts the e-mail provider, he or she may not be able to copy important e-mails or contact lists before the account is deactivated. Back up important information elsewhere and update it regularly.

  • Don't assume your digital estate has no value. Some frequent flyer points are transferable after your death. Credit cards with cash-back feature stores are generally redeemable after your death, but only if they are claimed. Internet domain names are potentially sellable, and blogs are a form of intellectual property.

Consider investing in a password manager. Sites such as LastPass and Dashlane maintain a record of your online accounts and passwords in a digital safe. You can set them up to transfer the passwords to your representative at a specific event, such as your death or incapacity.

Continue reading here.

© 2017 Commonwealth Financial Network®

How long do you really need to keep those papers? 

According to mydollarplan.com, being organized is not the same thing as keeping all papers and financial records forever.
How long do you need to keep bank statements? How long do you need to keep tax records? What about all the copies of paper checks after they were deposited?  
It's time to take the paper trail and purge all the extra records you don't need anymore! Here's how long we should be keeping those important papers:



  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Military Documents
  • Immunization Record
  • Employment Records (Why)
  • IRA Contributions (Why)
  • Social Security Card
  • Tax Returns: The IRS can audit your returns from 3 years ago; 6 years if you grossly under reported; indefinitely if you filed a fraudulent return or did not file. So you could pitch your returns after 7 years... however, if they claim you didn't file, and you pitched it... well, now you know why I put tax returns on the indefinite list! You can also request copies or transcripts of past tax returns. For more details on how long to keep tax records, see the specifics on how long to keep tax returns below.

Keep During Ownership

  • Car Titles and Service Records
  • Receipts, Manuals, and Warranty Information for Appliances
  • Receipts for Major Purchases like Jewelry, Furniture, and Computers
Ownership Plus 7 Years
Even after you sell investments or real estate, you'll still need to keep the gain or loss documentation for tax purposes.  
  • Stocks, Bonds, and Investment Records
  • Savings Certificates
  • Home Improvement Documentation
  • Real Estate Records
7 Years
Many of the following will contain information that supports tax returns. Therefore it's best to keep the following for seven years:
  • Canceled Checks
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Old Bank Statements
  • Retirement Plan Contributions
  • Supporting Documentation for Tax Returns
Until Specified Date


  • Annual Retirement Statements: Until retirement and funds are exhausted.
  • Insurance Policies - Until property is sold, policy expires, and all claims are settled.
  • Wills: Until replaced by a new one.

Throw Away


  • Receipts not used for Warranties, Taxes, or Insurance
  • Paycheck Stubs: Once you get your W-2, you can toss them
  • Phone Bills not needed for taxes
  • ATM Receipts
  • Grocery Receipts


Special rules exist when it comes to your tax records. According to the IRS, here are the guidelines on how long to keep tax records:
Keep Tax Returns Forever
  • If you filed a fraudulent return, keep your tax returns forever.
  • If you did not file a return, keep your tax records forever.
Keep Tax Returns for 7 Years
  • If you claimed a worthless security loss or deducted a bad debt, keep your tax records for 7 years.
Keep Tax Returns for 6 Years
  • If you grossly underreported your taxable income (more than 25% of the gross income on your return), keep your tax return for 6 years.
Keep Tax Returns for 3 Years
  • If the above don't apply, keep your tax returns for 3 years.
  • If you filed an amended tax return, keep your tax return for 3 years or 2 years from when you paid the tax if it's later.
Continue reading here .

     Can one late payment affect my credit score? 

Don't miss this important information on your credit score, provided by Equifax

Even if you normally pay your bills on time, an unexpected financial emergency, a lost job, or even a simple oversight could cause you to fall behind on your payments.
If you miss a payment on one of your credit accounts, be it a credit card, mortgage, or other loan, you could see your credit score drop. As a result, lenders may view you less favorably.
Lenders use the information on your credit score to gauge your risk as a borrower, and your payment history has the strongest impact on your credit score. While a history of on-time payments suggests you are a consumer who will likely repay your debt on time, a history of late payments could suggest to creditors that you are a risky borrower.
If you have a payment that is more than 30 days late, your creditor may report it to the credit reporting agencies (CRAs). In this case, the late payment can show up on your credit report and be factored into your credit score. Late payments will be listed on your credit report depending on how late they are: 30 days late, 60 days late, 90 days late, 120 days late, 150 days late, or charged off.
But how much of an effect does one late payment really have on my credit score?
The degree to which a late payment may affect your credit score can depend on multiple factors. When it comes to your FICO credit score, for example, a late payment will be evaluated based on how severe it is, how recent it is, and how frequently you've paid late.
Each credit reporting agency has its own model for evaluating your information and assigning you a credit score, so your scores will vary between the agencies. You should also know that your credit scores are updated each time there is a request for a score, and new information received impacts the model.
In general, though, the longer a bill goes unpaid, the more damaging the effect it has on your credit score. For example, all other things being equal, a payment that is 90 days late can have a more significant negative impact on your credit score than a payment that is 30 days late. In addition, the more recent the late payment, the more negative of an impact it could have.
One late payment could have a more significant impact on higher credit scores. According to FICO data, a 30-day delinquency could cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop on a FICO Score of 780 for a consumer who has never missed a payment on any credit account.
In comparison, a consumer with a 680 FICO Score and two late payments (a 90-day delinquency on a credit card account from two years ago and a 30-day delinquency on an auto loan from a year ago) would experience a 60- to 80-point drop after being hit with another 30-day delinquency.
If you miss a payment (even just one) on one of your credit accounts, the late payment could remain on your credit report for up to seven years. If you fall in the habit of paying late, your account could be charged off or sent to collections, which could further dent your credit score.
Continue reading here.

Market Update
Positive month for markets as risks recede

May was a solid month for world markets. Supported by strong earnings and signs that the first-quarter economic slowdown was in the past, the three major U.S. stock indices were up in May.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with a 0.71-percent gain, and the S&P 500 Index rose a healthy 1.41 percent. Leading the pack was the Nasdaq, which was up 2.67 percent.
Improving fundamentals drove the gains. FactSet reported that, as of May 26, 98 percent of S&P 500 companies had announced first-quarter earnings. Year-over-year, the blended average earnings growth was 13.9 percent. This was higher than the 12.5-percent growth forecast a month ago and the fastest growth since the third quarter of 2011. Earnings were up across the board, with 10 of the 11 sectors in the index reporting year-over-year growth.

Analysts expect the faster earnings growth to continue. Higher earnings and faster growth suggest that strong stock market performance may continue. Technicals for the three indices were also positive, with all three staying well above their trendlines.

International equity markets had an even better May. The MSCI EAFE Index rose 3.67 percent, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index gained 2.98 percent. Faster global growth and diminishing political risks encouraged investors to allocate assets abroad. Lower valuations than U.S. markets, as well as rising growth rates, may support the trend going forward. In terms of technicals, both indices were well supported and spent the entire month above their 200-day moving averages.
Fixed income markets also had a solid month. Driven by declining interest rates, the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index was up 0.77 percent. Lower inflation data pulled the 10-year Treasury rate down, from 2.33 percent at the start of May to 2.21 percent by month-end.

The market expects the Federal Reserve to raise the federal funds rate at the June 14 Federal Open Market Committee meeting. An increase would reflect the Fed's confidence in the economy. Currently, markets consider increases beyond June less probable, which also helped lower Treasury rates.

The high-yield market had a positive month, as the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Index gained 0.87 percent. High-yield spreads compressed during May, driving prices up. Although a bit higher than their March lows, spreads are near post-recession lows. This suggests that investor confidence is high.

Economic slowdown fades

After a weak first quarter, data in May indicated that the economic slowdown was passing. First-quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth was revised upward, from 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent. Much of the increase was due to positive revisions in personal consumption and business investment data.

Improved consumer and business data has led to expectations of faster growth for the rest of the year. In particular, second-quarter growth is expected to be much stronger. At the end of May, the Atlanta Fed estimated 3.8-percent growth for the period.

Consumers spend more

Faster growth requires both the ability to spend and the confidence to do so. Here, the news was mixed. Job growth declined in May, down to 138,000 against expectations for an increase of 182,000. This brought the three-month rate down to 121,000 per month.

Even though job growth does seem to be slowing, it is continuing. The same can be said of wage growth. Despite the slowing trend, growth continues and personal incomes continue to increase. With personal income on the rise, the consumer's ability to spend is there.

During May, the confidence necessary for spending growth was there as well. Both major consumer confidence surveys remained near 14-year highs. Also, for the first time in 2017, job growth and confidence led to higher consumer spending-a very positive sign. Retail sales were up in April, and the low levels for March were revised upward. This helped ease fears that the strength in the "soft" confidence data hadn't led to increases in "hard" spending data. Continued strength in job creation is positive for the economy and supports a potential June rate hike.

Business hard data begins to catch up

The ISM Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing surveys had been in healthy expansionary territory. But, as with the consumer sector, actual investment had been lagging. In May, the gap started to close. First-quarter investment data was revised upward. Significant gains in industrial production were also reported.
May industrial production growth was the fastest in more than three years, as illustrated in Figure 1. The increase was widespread; manufacturing and mining led the way. Manufacturing and industry has been a weak area for some time, and the resurgence bodes well for future growth.
Durable goods orders, which are a proxy for business confidence, decreased a bit in April. The decline was offset by upward revisions to previous data, which suggests that overall growth may be accelerating. The headline and core figures still show year-over-year growth. Once the final results for May are announced, the monthly decrease may turn out to be an outlier.

Housing slows down

Another good example of confidence versus data is in housing. Home builder industry confidence bumped up in May, though housing sales came in below expectations. This may appear inconsistent, but the driver for both rests in strong demand combined with low supply.

The supply of existing homes for sale is near all-time lows, and the supply of new homes is below prerecession levels. This indicates that the disappointing sales number isn't due to lack of demand. Plus the industry sees an opportunity to respond to the unmet demand.

The data points bear watching. Increased supply could lead to further growth in the housing market and faster growth in consumer spending.
Political risks bear monitoring

Many recent political risks haven't been as damaging as had been feared, in particular the Brexit process and the French election.

But the U.S. situation remains a potential area of concern. The ability of the Trump administration to move forward on its policy goals is unproven. Also, pending legislation-specifically the need to increase the debt ceiling-may cause disarray.
North Korea continues to be a flash point. Also, the potential Italian election later this year is raising concerns similar to those raised before the French election. Some observers believe the Italians will choose a government that favors leaving the European Union.

Future growth appears likely

The economic environment in the U.S. is improving. Faster growth in consumer and business spending suggests that economic growth should continue. Market resilience despite political uncertainty indicates that strong fundamentals are supporting potential further gains. Other countries are also doing well, which has led to the first synchronized global expansion since the financial crisis.

Expansion is likely to continue and may be poised to accelerate. With hard data starting to catch up with strong confidence levels, we could see a virtuous cycle. Increased confidence leads to increased spending, which leads to higher levels of confidence and so forth. The signs are positive.

In the short and intermediate terms, real political and economic risks remain. Even with positive trends, we will see volatility. Investors need to take note of and brace for that possibility. A well-diversified portfolio aligned with financial goals is still the best way to prepare for the future.

Co-authored by Brad McMillan, senior vice president, chief investment officer, and Sam Millette, investment research associate, at Commonwealth Financial Network ®.

All information according to Bloomberg, unless stated otherwise.