October 2017 Newsletter
  We hope this newsletter finds you well as we head into the holiday season.
Financial Markets After Three Quarters
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Through the first three quarters of the year, we have seen double-digit returns for stocks across the globe. Earnings have grown along with stock prices. Interest rates have increased, but slowly enough to allow bonds to post positive returns. 

Alternative investments have provided further diversification in our portfolios. Returns ranged from double digits to a slight decline in the pipeline funds, where we expect to see resumed growth now that oil prices have stabilized. 

Our outlook remains cautiously optimistic. If earnings can remain strong, the record high prices in the stock markets will prove justified. And, if the economy continues to grow in the Goldilocks zone (not too slow and not too fast), bonds might continue to provide reasonable returns in addition to their role of offsetting portfolio risk.
Equifax Data Breach - What To Do?
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It’s very likely you are one of the 145 million (and counting) Americans who had their sensitive personal information exposed due to the Equifax Data Breach. We would like to share some suggestions for how to protect yourself going forward.

It was announced in September that due to a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies (the other two are Experian and TransUnion), hackers were able to access people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases driver’s license and credit card numbers. Anyone impacted by this breach is now at risk for identity theft and fraud. Criminals can use this information to open credit cards, take out loans and make purchases in your name, among other financially devastating actions.

Money expert Clark Howard has been quoted as saying this is the “worst data breach in the history of the modern era.” With a breach of this magnitude, it is too early to know just how many and who was affected by it. It’s likely that most everyone with a credit report had their information taken and the information could be used in weeks, months, or even years from now.

Here’s what you need to know including how to freeze your credit:  read more

 
2017 Year-End Checklist
Employed People with Earned Income
  • If you are in a 401(k) or other retirement plan, consider increasing your payroll contributions for 2017 and/or 2018.
  • If you have earned income, contribute to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. Roth IRAs can grow tax free and be withdrawn tax free. Contributions to traditional IRAs are usually tax deductible. The deadline is tax filing day: Tuesday April 17, 2018.
  • Review your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Be sure to spend your money by the plan deadline (“use it or lose it!”).
  • If you are eligible for a Health Savings Accounts (HSA), maximize your 2017 contributions or consider establishing and contributing to the account before year-end.

 
Age 70 ½+
  • For individuals age 70 ½+ with charitable intentions, make a tax-free distribution from your IRA to the charitable organization. This rule was made permanent when Congress eliminated the sunset provision.
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Business Owners
  • Review your company’s retirement plan to determine if a change in plans could provide additional tax deductions.


Tax Strategies
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Planning Opportunity
If you have not met with or talked with us in a while, call us and we can set up a call or meeting. We can incorporate any changes to your financial situation into your strategy. Also, it is good to discuss year-end planning opportunities and our latest research. 

We reach out on a regular basis, but people tend to be busy. The holidays will be here before you know it.
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