FINANCIAL FOCUS – Saying “I Do” Might Mean “I Can’t” for Roth IRA

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June is a popular month for weddings. If you are planning on tying the knot this month, it’s an exciting time, but be aware that being married might affect you in unexpected ways – including the way you invest. If you and your new spouse both earn fairly high incomes, you may find that you are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA.

A Roth IRA can be a great way to save for retirement. You can fund your IRA with virtually any type of investment, and, although your contributions are not deductible, any earnings growth is distributed tax-free, provided you don’t start withdrawals until you are 59-1/2 and you’ve had your account at least five years. In 2018, you can contribute up to $5,500 to your Roth IRA, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older.

But here’s where your “just married” status can affect your ability to invest in a Roth IRA. When you were single, you could put in the full amount to your Roth IRA if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) was less than $120,000; past that point, your allowable contributions were reduced until your MAGI reached $135,000, after which you could no longer contribute to a Roth IRA at all. But once you got married, these limits did not double. Instead, if you’re married and filing jointly, your maximum contribution amount will be gradually reduced once your MAGI reaches $189,000, and your ability to contribute disappears entirely when your MAGI is $199,000 or more.

Furthermore, if you are married and filing separately, you are ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA if your MAGI is just $10,000 or more.

So, as a married couple, how can you maximize your contributions? The answer may be that, similar to many endeavors in life, if one door is closed to you, you have to find another – in this case, a “backdoor” Roth IRA.

Essentially, a backdoor Roth IRA is a conversion of traditional IRA assets to a Roth. A traditional IRA does not offer tax-free earnings distributions, though your contributions can be fully or partially deductible, depending on your income level. But no matter how much you earn, you can roll as much money as you want from a traditional IRA to a Roth, even if that amount exceeds the yearly contribution limits. And once the money is in the Roth, the rules for tax-free withdrawals will apply.

Still, getting into this back door is not necessarily without cost. You must pay taxes on any money in your traditional IRA that hasn’t already been taxed, and the funds going into your Roth IRA will likely count as income, which could push you into a higher tax bracket in the year you make the conversion.

Will incurring these potential tax consequences be worth it to you? It might be, as the value of tax-free withdrawals can be considerable. However, you should certainly analyze the pros and cons of this conversion with your tax advisor before making any decisions.

In any case, if you’ve owned a Roth IRA, or if you were even considering one, be aware of the new parameters you face when you get married. And take the opportunity to explore all the ways you and your new spouse can create a positive investment strategy for your future.

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – What Should You Look for in an Annual Financial Review?

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Given the complexities of the investment world, you might consider working with a financial professional to help you move toward your goals, such as a comfortable retirement. You’ll want to establish good communication with whomever you choose, and you should meet in person at least once a year to discuss your situation. At these annual reviews, you’ll want to cover a variety of topics, including these:

  • Your portfolio’s progress – Obviously, you will want to discuss how well your investments are doing. Of course, you can follow their performance from month to month, or even day to day, by reviewing your investment statements and online information, but at your annual meeting, your financial professional can sum up the past year’s results, highlight areas that have done well or lagged, and show you how closely your portfolio is tracking the results you need to achieve your long-term goals.
  • Your investment mix – Your mix of investments – stocks, bonds, government securities and so on – helps determine your success as an investor. But in looking at the various investments in your portfolio, you’ll want to go beyond individual gains and losses to see if your overall mix is still appropriate for your needs. For example, is the ratio of stocks to bonds still suitable for your risk tolerance? Over time, and sometimes without you taking any action, this ratio can shift, as often happens when stocks appreciate so much that they now take up a larger percentage of your portfolio than you intended – with a correspondingly higher risk level. If these unexpected movements occur, your financial professional may recommend you rebalance your portfolio to align it more closely with your goals and risk tolerance.
  • Changes in your family situation – A lot can happen in a single year. You could have gotten married, divorced or remarried, added a child to your family or moved to a new, more expensive house – the list can go on and on. And some, if not all, of these moves could certainly involve your financial and investment pictures, so it’s important to discuss them with your financial professional.
  • Changes in your goals – Since your last annual review, you may have decided to change some of your long-term goals. Perhaps you no longer want to retire early, or you’ve ruled out that vacation home. In any case, these choices may well affect your investment strategies, so it’s wise to discuss them.
  • Changes in the investment environment – Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to establish a long-term investment strategy based on your individual goals, risk tolerance and time horizon, and stick with this basic strategy regardless of the movements of the financial markets or changes in the economy. Still, this doesn’t mean you should never adjust your portfolio in response to external forces. For instance, if interest rates were to rise steadily over a year’s time, you might want to consider some changes to your fixed-income investments, such as bonds, whose value will be affected by rising rates. In any case, it’s another thing to talk about during your annual review.

These aren’t the only elements you may want to bring up in your yearly review with your financial professional – but they can prove to be quite helpful as you chart your course toward the future.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Saving for College? Consider a 529 Plan

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Do you know about 529 savings plans? If not, you are not alone – although these plans have been around since 1996, many people are still unaware of them. And that’s unfortunate, because a 529 plan can be a valuable tool for anyone who wants to help a child, grandchild, friend or other family member save for education expenses.

Here are some of the key benefits of a 529 plan:

  • Potential tax advantages – A 529 plan’s earnings are not subject to federal income taxes, as long as withdrawals are used for qualified education expenses (tuition, room and board, etc.) of the designated beneficiary, such as your child or grandchild. (You will be subject to ordinary income taxes, plus a 10 percent federal penalty, on the earnings portion of withdrawals not used for qualified education expenses.)
  • High contribution limits – Contribution limits are generally quite high for most states’ 529 plans. However, you could possibly incur gift tax consequences if your contributions, plus any other gifts, to a particular beneficiary exceed $15,000 during a single year.
  • Ability to switch beneficiaries – As the old song goes, “The future is not ours to see.” You might name a particular child or grandchild as a beneficiary of a 529 savings plan, only to see him or her decide not to go to college after all. But as the owner of the plan, you generally may be able to switch beneficiaries whenever you like, right up to the point when they start taking withdrawals. (To make this switch non-taxable and penalty-free, you must designate a new beneficiary who is a member of the same family as the original beneficiary.)
  • Freedom to invest in any state’s plan – You can invest in the 529 plan offered by any state, regardless of where you live. But if you invest in your own state’s plan, you might receive some type of state tax benefit, such as a deduction or credit. Additional benefits also may be available.
  • Flexibility in changing investments – You can switch investment options in your 529 plan up to twice a year. Or, if you’d rather take a more hands-off approach, you could select an automatic age-based option that starts out with a heavier emphasis on growth-oriented investments and shifts toward less risky, fixed-income vehicles as the beneficiary approaches college age.

While a 529 plan clearly offers some benefits, it also raises some issues about which you should be aware. For example, when colleges compute financial aid packages, they may count assets in a 529 plan as parental assets, assuming the parents are the plan owners. To clarify the impact of 529 plans on potential financial aid awards, you might want to consult with a college’s financial aid officer.

One final note: In previous years, 529 plans were limited to eligible colleges, universities and trade schools, but starting in 2018, you can also use up to $10,000 per year, per beneficiary, from a 529 plan to pay for tuition expenses at public,  private or religious elementary and secondary schools. (Not all states recognize K-12 expenses as qualifying for 529 plan benefits, so consult your local tax advisor before investing.)

Education is a great investment in a child’s future. And to make that education more affordable, you might want to make your own investment in a 529 plan.

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Meet Your Short-term Goals?

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Why do you invest? If you’re like most people, you’d probably say that, among other things, you want to retire comfortably. Obviously, that’s a worthy long-term goal, requiring long-term investing. But as you journey through life, you’ll also have short-term goals, such as buying a second home, remodeling your kitchen or taking a much-needed vacation. Will you need to invest differently for these goals than you would for the long-term ones?

To answer that question, let’s first look at how you might invest to achieve your longer-term goals. For these goals, the key investment ingredient is growth – quite simply, you want your money to grow as much as possible over time. Consequently, you will likely want a good percentage of growth-oriented vehicles, such as stocks and other stock-based investments, to fund your 401(k), IRA or other accounts.

However, the flip side of growth is risk. Stocks and stock-based investments will always fluctuate in value – which means you could lose some, or even all, of your principal. Hopefully, though, by putting time on your side – that is, by holding your growth-oriented investments for decades – you can overcome the inevitable short-term price drops.

In short, when investing for long-term goals, you’re seeking significant growth and, in doing so, you’ll have to accept some degree of investment risk. But when you’re after short-term goals, the formula is somewhat different: You don’t need maximum growth potential as much as you need to be reasonably confident that a certain amount of money will be there for you at a certain time.

You may want to work with a financial professional to select the appropriate investments for your short-term goals. But, in general, you’ll need these investments to provide you with the following attributes:

  • Protection of principal – As mentioned above, when you own stocks, you have no assurance that your principal will be preserved; there’s no agency, no government office, guaranteeing that you won’t lose money. And even some of the investments best suited for short-term goals won’t come with full guarantees, either, but, by and large, they do offer you a reasonable amount of confidence that your principal will remain intact.
  • Liquidity – Some short-term investments have specific terms – i.e., two years, three years, five years, etc. – meaning you do have an incentive to hold these investments until they mature. Otherwise, if you cash out early, you might pay some price, such as loss of value or loss of the income produced by these investments. Nonetheless, these types of investments are usually not difficult to sell, either before they mature or at maturity, and this liquidity will be helpful to you when you need the money to meet your short-term goal.
  • Stability of issuer – Although most investments suitable for short-term goals do provide a high degree of preservation of principal, some of the issuers of these investments are stronger and more stable than others – and these strong and stable issuers are the ones you should stick with.

Ultimately, most of your investment efforts will probably go toward your long-term goals. But your short-term goals are still important – and the right investment strategy can help you work toward them.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Financial Gifts for Your Adult Children

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Mother’s Day is almost here. If you’re a mother with grown children, you might receive flowers, candy, dinner invitations or some other type of pleasant recognition. However, you might find that you can get more enjoyment from the holiday by giving, rather than receiving. The longest-lasting gifts may be financial ones – so here are a few moves to consider:

  • Contribute to your child’s IRA. If your children have earned income, they are eligible to contribute to an IRA, which offers tax benefis and an almost unlimited array of investment options. You can’t contribute directly to another person’s IRA, but you can write your child a check for that purpose. This could be a valuable gift, as many people can’t afford to contribute the maximum yearly amount, which, in 2018, is $5,500, or $6,500 for those 50 or older.
  • Give gifts of stock. You know your children pretty well, so you should be familiar with the products they buy. Why not give them some shares of stock in the companies that make these products? Your children will probably enjoy being “owners” of these companies, and if they weren’t that familiar with how the financial markets work, having these shares in their possession may greatly expand their knowledge and lead to an even greater interest in investing.
  • Donate to a charity in your child’s name. You might want to donate to a charitable organization that your child supports. In years past, such a donation might have earned you a tax deduction, but the new tax laws, which include a much higher standard deduction, may keep many people from itemizing. Still, it’s possible for a charitable gift to provide you with a tax benefit, depending on your age. If you’re 70 ½ or older, you must start taking withdrawals from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan, but by moving the withdrawal directly to a qualified charitable group, the money won’t count as part of your adjusted gross income, so, in effect, you can get a tax break from your generosity.
  • Review your estate strategy. Like virtually all parents, you’d probably like to be able to leave some type of legacy to your children, and possibly your grandchildren, too. So, if you haven’t already started working on your estate strategy, consider using Mother’s Day as a launching point. At the very least, you’ll want to write your will, but you may need much more than that, such as a living trust, a durable power of attorney and other documents. And don’t forget to change the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement accounts if you’ve experienced a major life change, such as divorce or remarriage. These designations are powerful and can even supersede whatever instructions you might have left in your will. As you can guess, estate planning can be complex, so you almost certainly will want to work with a legal professional to get your arrangements in order.

Mother’s Day is a good opportunity for your children to show their love for you, and you can do the same for them by helping bolster their long-term security through financial gifts and legacy planning.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Here’s a Checklist for Changing Jobs

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A few generations ago, it was not uncommon for workers to stick with a single job for their whole careers. But for many of us today, frequent job changes are a fact of life: The average employee tenure is just over four years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, assuming you’re going to switch jobs a few times, you’ll want to be prepared. Here’s a checklist of things you can do to smooth these transitions and help your financial situation:

__Build an emergency fund. Some of your job changes may be involuntary, so you’ll want to have a cash cushion handy – just in case. One smart move would be to build an emergency fund, containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account.

__Consider your options for your former employer’s 401(k) plan. If you had a 401(k) plan with your former employer, you have three main options: You could leave your money in the plan, if the employer allows it; you could move the money into your new employer’s plan, if permitted; or you could roll the funds over to an IRA. You’ll want to weigh the “pros” and “cons” of these choices carefully before making a decision.

__Choose investments from your new retirement plan. If your new employer offers a 401(k) or similar plan, you’ll need to choose the investments within the plan that are most appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. Contribute as much as you can afford to the plan, and consider increasing your contributions every time your salary goes up.

___Make sure you’ve got health insurance. The health insurance offered by your new employer may not begin the minute you start your job. Given the high costs of medical care, you’ll need to make sure you are protected until your coverage kicks in. So, for that interim period, you may need to consider the federal health insurance marketplace, COBRA continuation coverage or private medical insurance. You might also be eligible to be covered under your spouse’s health insurance. And you may want to learn what your options are for health savings accounts (HSAs), if available.

___Review your new benefits packageand take steps to fill gaps. Your new benefits package may include life and disability insurance, but these group policies may not be enough to fully protect you and your family. A financial professional can help you quantify your protection and insurance needs and offer guidance on how much coverage you may require.

__Understand your income tax considerations. Getting a new job may involve income tax implications, such as changes in your tax bracket, severance pay, unused vacation and unemployment compensation. And if you are thinking of exercising stock options, be aware that this, too, can be a taxable event. Finally, if you have to move to take a new job, you may incur some relocation and job hunting expenses that could be deductible. You will need to discuss all these issues with your tax professional.

Starting a new job can be exciting – and challenging. But you may be able to make your life easier by putting the above suggestions to work.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Keep Your Investment “Ecosystem” Healthy

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April 22 is Earth Day. First observed in 1970, Earth Day has evolved into an international celebration, with nearly 200 countries holding events to support clean air, clean water and other measures to protect our planet. As an investor, what lessons can you learn from this special day?

Consider the following:

  • Avoid “toxic” investment moves. Earth Day events show us how we can help keep toxins out of our land, air and water. And if you want to keep your investment ecosystem healthy, you need to avoid making some toxic moves. For example, don’t chase after hot stocks based on tips you may have heard or read. By the time you learn about these stocks, they may already have cooled off – and they may not even be appropriate for your goals or risk tolerance. Another toxic investment move involves trying to “time” the market – that is, buying investments when they reach low points and selling them at their peaks. It’s a great theory, but almost impossible to turn into reality, because no one can really predict market highs and lows – and your timing efforts, which may involve selling investments that could still help you – may disrupt your long-term strategy.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is a motto of the environmental movement. Essentially, it’s encouraging people to add less stuff to their lives and use the things they already have. As an investor, you can benefit from the same advice. Rather than constantly buying and selling investments in hopes of boosting your returns, try to build a portfolio that makes sense for your situation, and stick with your holdings until your needs change. If you’re always trading, you’ll probably rack up fees and taxes, and you may well end up not even boosting your performance. It might not seem exciting to purchase investments and hang on to them for decades, but that’s the formula many successful investors follow, and have followed.
  • Plant “seeds” of opportunity. Another Earth Day lesson deals with the value of planting gardens and trees. When you invest, you also need to look for ways to plant seeds of opportunity. Seek out investments that, like trees, can grow and prosper over time. All investments do carry risk, including the potential loss of principal, but you can help reduce your risk by owning a mix of other, relatively less volatile vehicles, such as corporate bonds and U.S. Treasury securities. (Keep in mind, though, that fixed-rate vehicles are subject to interest-rate risk, which means that if interest rates rise, the value of bonds issued at a lower rate may fall.)
  • Match your money with your values. Earth Day also encourages us to be conscientious consumers. So, when you support local food growers, you are helping, in your own way, to reduce the carbon footprint caused in part by trucks delivering fruits and vegetables over long distances. Similarly, you might choose to include socially responsible investing in your overall strategy by avoiding investments in certain industries you find objectionable, or by seeking out companies that behave in a manner you believe benefits society.

Earth Day is here, and then it’s gone – but by applying some of its key teachings to your investment activities, you may improve your own financial environment.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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Is empathy a key skill of the future?

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I am reading the book Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. He covers quite a bit in the book, ending with a discussion of artificial intelligence, which is the reason I bought the book. Early on, however, Nadella talks about the discovered importance to him of empathy and it got me thinking about the future of leadership and HR.

Empathy

Dictionary.com defines empathy as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” Its root words are the Greek word empátheia meaning affection,  and the word páschein meaning to suffer.

It has long been considered in American business that there was no place for empathy, at least not on the leadership level. In business biographies of J.P. Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller, it is doubtful you will find chapters on their use of empathy. But as business has evolved, along with legislation, we have seen more and more calls for empathetic practices. We see it in legislation. I think the root of the FMLA and the ACA, and the proposed Workflex in the 21st Century Act is empathy.

More leaders expressing empathy

In his book, Nadella talks about his personal approach to leadership. He says:

My personal philosophy and my passion, developed over time and through exposure t many different experiences, is to connect new ideas with a growing sense of empathy for other people. Ideas excite me. Empathy grounds and centers me.

After relating his some of his life experience with disabilities, discrimination, people in developing countries he goes on to say:

My passion is to put empathy at the center of everything I pursue – from the products we launch, to the new markets we enter, to the employees, customers, and partners we work with.

Emotional Intelligence

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is defined as:

…the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

More and more in HR literature and training, emotional intelligence is being identified as critically important. The SHRM certification material says that “Without EI, the behaviors needed to support a global mindset or diversity in the workplace- EMPATHY, cooperation, willingness to learn about and accept differences – are practically impossible.” (My emphasis in caps.)

Empathy is a critical part of the leadership and HR in today’s world. More needs to be done to make sure that organizations demonstrate empathy as a core value. I know it has not been my strong suit in the past, but as things have changed I have come to recognize the value to business and to my personal life of the value of empathy. We need to work on instilling this in our business life and making sure that leaders are trained in the importance and value of empathy.

Article written by Mike Haberman

Mike Haberman

The Value of a Devil’s Advocate in HR

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In the Roman Catholic Church, from the year 1000 until 1978, fewer than 450 people were canonized as saints. In 1978, Pope John Paul II removed the use of a promotor fidei whose job it was to question why that individual should be made a saint. As a result, in the 38 years since 1978, 450 people have been canonized. I learned this as I was reading a section on confirmation bias in the book The Wisest One in the Room, which I have referred to before.

A human condition

According to Gilovich and Ross, we as human have a tendency to look for evidence that confirms what we believe. They say “The more you want a proposition to be true, the more inclined you are to look for evidence that supports it.” I think we saw good evidence of this in the Presidential election, on both sides. It is called confirmation bias, and it is a mistake often made in the interview process. It can be offset with the knowledge that it exists; in fact, it is one of the major tenets of behavioral interviewing.

Disconfirming

I was taught behavioral interviewing by Paul Green back in the 1980’s. In his training he talked about interviewer errors and the fact that we all have a tendency, if we happen to like something about a candidate, or dislike something about a candidate, to look for evidence that confirms our initial impression. Paul said that to be effective and counteract this tendency you had to look for “disconfirming” evidence. You had to be your own “devil’s advocate.” You had to ask yourself “Why am I liking this person so much?” This gave you the chance to have a more balanced view of the candidate. I found it to be excellent advice.

Why not a Devil’s Advocate in the HR department?

If each HR department had a promotor fidei, or Devil’s advocate, it might help you make consequential decisions with more confidence. Rather than looking for evidence on why a decision should be made you could ask the question on why a decision should NOT be made, or why a product should NOT be purchased, or why a person should NOT be fired. As Gilovich and Ross say:

What you need to do is to slow down and consciously look for information that challenges whatever proposition you are evaluating, especially if the proposition conforms to your current view or preferences.”

So the next time you are faced with a decision where the answer just seems too easy pull that little devil out of your pocket and put it to use.

Article written by Mike Haberman

Mike Haberman

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for Financial “Spring Cleaning”

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The days are longer and the temperatures are warmer – so it must be spring. For many of us, that means it’s time for some spring cleaning. But why stop with sprucing up your living space? This year, consider extending the “spring cleaning” concept to your financial environment, too.

How can you tidy your finances? Here are some suggestions:

  • “De-clutter” your portfolio. As you go through your home during your spring cleaning rounds, you may notice that you’ve acquired a lot of duplicate objects – do you really need five mops? – or at least some things you can no longer use, like a computer that hasn’t worked since 2010. You can create some valuable space by getting rid of these items. And the same principle can apply to your investment portfolio, because over the years you may well have acquired duplicate investments that aren’t really helping you move toward your goals. You may also own some investments, which, while initially fitting into your overall strategy, no longer do so. You could be better off by selling your “redundant” investments and using the proceeds to purchase new ones that will provide more value.
  • Get organized. During your spring cleaning, one of your key goals may be to get organized. So you might want to rearrange the tools in your garage or establish a new filing system in your home office. Proper organization is also important to investors – and it goes beyond having your brokerage and 401(k) statements in nice neat piles. For example, you may have established IRAs with different financial services companies. By moving them to one provider, you may save some fees and reduce your paperwork, but, more important, you may find that such a move actually helps you better manage your investments. You’ll know exactly where your money is going, and it could be easier to follow a single investment strategy. Also, with all your IRAs in one place, it will be much easier for you to manage the required minimum distributions you must start taking when you turn 70-1/2. (These distributions are not required for Roth IRAs.)
  • Protect your family’s financial future. When cleaning up this spring, you may notice areas of concern around protecting your home – perhaps there’s a crack in your window, or your fence is damaged or part of your chimney is crumbling. Your financial independence – and that of your family – also needs protection. Is your life insurance sufficient to pay for your mortgage, college for your kids and perhaps some retirement funds for your spouse? Do you have disability insurance that can provide you with some income if you become ill or injured and can’t work for a while? Have you considered the high costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay? A financial professional can help you determine if your insurance coverage is adequate for all these needs.

Consider putting these spring cleaning suggestions to work. They may help you keep your financial house in good shape for all the seasons yet to arrive.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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Do flexible work schedules require flexible services?

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I read about a very interesting study done by Prof. Seán Ó Riain from Maynooth University, Ireland, on changes that have occurred in the workplace since 1995. His contention is that while workplaces have become more flexible the world of services around the workplace have not. He says “We’re at a stage where we need to think about, now that we’re living in this world of flexible work, how do we respond to that? What are the kinds of services that will enable people to stay in these jobs for a lifetime?

Flexible work in an inflexible world

As the workplace has evolved work schedules have evolved. We now come in earlier or later than the 8 am or 9 am to 5 workplaces that have evolved. But for that to become more widespread the world outside the workplace needs to evolve too. Most services, beyond retail, have settled into the “9 to 5” schedule. Daycare services have adapted some, but government services have not on a widespread basis. Repair services of many types have not really adapted. Try to find a car repair shop open at 10 pm or a doctor’s office that deals with more than emergency services. As the professor says of our flexible work schedule “It also demands more complex, more high-quality public services. A general set of services that everybody benefits from actually becomes more important when people are working in more different ways than they used to.” We generally have to adapt to their schedules than they have to adapt to the working world.

The future must be a coordinated effort

One of the oddities that Ó Riain found was that the more flexibility there was in a workplace the more planning there needed to be. I think we will find that the more flexible companies want to provide will depend on the flexibility of services being provided. If we truly want a flexible workplace society, the more there needs to be a coordinated effort between government, education, service providers, retail companies and other segments of the business world. Otherwise, we will stick to the “9 to 5” model and the burden of flexibility will be on employers, who will only go so far.

Do you think this can occur? What flexibility issues have you seen in your world?

Article written by Mike Haberman

Mike Haberman

Six Interesting age facts HR and business leaders should know

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A couple of interesting age facts taken from Tom Peters’ book The Little BIG Things. Written in 2010, the information he gives us about age is still relevant today, given that in 2017 age discrimination cases were in the top five discrimination claims made, making up almost 22% of claims filed.

The facts

Here you go:

  • People turning 50 today have half their adult lives ahead of them- a quote from Bill Novelli, author of 50+: Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America.
  • Americans own, on average, 13 cars in a lifetime, 7 of which are bought after the age of 50.
  • People age 55 or older are more active in online finance, shopping, and entertainment than those under 55 according to Forester Research.
  • Americans over 50 control a gargantuan share of the personal wealth of the United States (my guess is the same may be true in other western countries.)
  • Americans over 50 are healthier than they have been in the past.
  • American women over 50 control an enormous, and growing share of the total wealth.

The lesson in this?

Peters’ lesson derived from this information is that the vaunted 18 to 44 age demographic is highly overrated as a marketplace. More attention needs to be paid attention to the “oldsters.”

My lesson derived from this is that your 50-year-old employee may have another 25 years of good working life left in them. The days of retiring at 65 years old are over with. The Social Security Administration doesn’t even recognize 65 as a full retirement. Working past the age of 65 must be given much more consideration by employers. Yes, some employees may want to slow down, so you need to think about job sharing or part-time arrangements. You may need to consider training programs for older workers to bring them up to speed with new technology (Yes, we can handle it!) Don’t consider it a bad investment because they may only be around another five years, the younger worker you hire may only be around 3 years and you trained them. Consider that extra two years a bonus.

Oh-by-the-way

I asked my class the other day who had ever heard of Tom Peters? No one raised their hand. If you have never heard of him either, then you have missed one of management’s great thinkers. He gets you thinking outside the box. READ him. This book is a great one to start with.

Article written by Mike Haberman

Mike Haberman

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Make Sure You Choose the Right Financial Professional

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These days, you have more options than ever – including so-called robo-advisors. Robo-advisors typically use algorithms to assemble investment portfolios, with little to no human supervision, after customers answer questions online. Generally, robo-advisors are fairly cheap, and their recommendations are usually based on sound investment principles such as diversification.

However, when considering a robo-advisor, you should determine if an algorithm can address your needs as well as a human being – someone who actually becomes familiar with your life and all aspects of your financial situation. Furthermore, a robo-advisor can’t really handle the new wrinkles that will inevitably pop up, such as when you change jobs, and you’d like to know what to do with your 401(k) from your previous employer – leave the money in that employer’s plan,  transfer the account to the new employer’s plan or roll it over to an IRA. You probably couldn’t receive a personalized evaluation of your options, based on your individual goals and circumstances, from a robo-advisor.

So, if you decide to work with an individual financial professional, what should you look for from this person? Here are a few questions you might want to ask:

  • Who is your typical client? By asking this question, you may get a sense of whether a particular financial advisor has experience working with people in your financial situation and with goals similar to yours.
  • What’s important to you? The quality of your relationship with your financial advisor is important – after all, you may be working with this person for decades – and he or she likely will be involved with many of your most personal decisions. Consequently, you’ll want to work with someone you connect with on an individual level, as well as a professional one. So, if an advisor seems to share your values and appears to have a good rapport with you, it could be a positive sign for the future.
  • How will we communicate – and how often? If you’re interviewing candidates, ask them how often they will meet with you in person. At a minimum, an advisor should see you once a year to review your progress and suggest changes. Will they also call or e-mail you with suggestions throughout the year? Are you free to contact them whenever you like? Will you get a real, live person every time you call? Will they send out newsletters or other communications to update you on changes in the investment

world? If so, can you see some samples of the communication vehicles they send to clients?

  • How do you get compensated? Some financial advisors work on a fee basis, some on commissions, and some use a combination of both. Find out how your advisor will be compensated, when you’ll need to make payments and how much you’ll be expected to pay.

By asking the right questions, you should get a good sense of whether a particular advisor is right for you. And since this likely will be one of the most important professional relationships you have, you’ll want a good feeling about it, right from the beginning.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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Robert Smith Launches Smith Center, Makes Largest Donation For Black Men’s Prostate Cancer Research

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Robert F. Smith wants to help keep black men who have prostate cancer alive, raise awareness and fund research. He recently donated $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to focus on black men and launched the Robert Frederick Smith Center of Precision Oncology Excellence in Chicago. Smith is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners.

Smith’s gift is the largest donation ever made specifically targeting research and care for black men with prostate cancer who, statistically, are 73 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other race or ethnicity. The Smith Center will serve as a precision oncology hub in PCF’s preeminent network of centers working to fulfill the ambitious mission of improving the care of U.S. veterans with prostate cancer. It also has a focus on aiding veterans in the Greater Chicagoland area and beyond who are battling prostate cancer.

“I am delighted to support the lifesaving work of accelerating promising medical research to serve our nation’s veterans who urgently need better treatments and cures and access to cutting-edge precision oncology,” Smith said. “With these resources, we will do right by those brave veterans who served our country, and we will change the odds for millions of African-American men who should be surviving prostate cancer.”

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among veterans, accounting for a third of all male cancer cases. Black men are 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease. To date, little is known about the biological reasons for the alarming disparities.

For veterans with the late-stage disease who are running out of choices, this gift will enable the Prostate Cancer Foundation to accelerate the work of clinical investigators working to solve some of the most lethal forms of prostate cancer while also advancing the quality of healthcare for black men.

In 2018, PCF will fund a series of precision medicine teams at leading Veterans Administration medical centers and universities across the country through a call for proposals issued in January. Although all highly innovative research proposals will be considered, priority will be given to higher risk-highest potential of impact to maximize the benefits to veterans, with a focus on African-Americans, in the near term.

“We are profoundly grateful to Robert F. Smith for his incredible generosity and his leadership. The Smith Center of Excellence represents a new model of American philanthropy and will pave the way for groundbreaking discoveries that will have a transformative impact on our research enterprise and its role in improving health equity for veterans and their families,” Jonathan W. Simons, MD, PCF’s president and CEO said.These survival disparities represent a real crisis, and this gift – so timely in the spirit of honoring the legacy of Dr. King – has the power to save lives.”

Article by Dominique Huff.

FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can Women Make Financial Progress?

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On March 8, we observe International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Press for Progress,” and events around the world will celebrate women’s advancements in the political, social and cultural arenas. But right here in the United States, women still face barriers to their financial progress. If you’re a woman, you need to recognize these challenges – and respond to them.

So, what are the key obstacles to financial security for a woman? Probably the first thing that comes to mind is the gender wage gap: Women generally earn around 80 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But women also face other threats to their financial security. For one thing, they are far more likely than men to take time away from the workforce to raise a family – and time away means smaller Social Security payments and significantly lower balances in 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts. And women’s roles as caretakers don’t end when their children are grown – in fact, women are twice as likely as their male siblings to end up caring for an elderly parent, according to a Princeton University study.

What, then, can you do to help ensure a comfortable retirement and achieve your other financial goals? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take full advantage of your employer’s retirement plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, take full advantage of it. Invest as much as you can afford each year, and every time you get a raise, increase your contributions. At the very least, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.
  • Invest for the long term. Some evidence shows that women may be more conservative investors than men. But if you want to reach your long-term goals, you will need to consider some growth-oriented investments in your portfolio, factoring in your risk tolerance and time horizon. You may want to consult with a financial professional about the best way to invest for the long term.
  • Maximize your Social Security. If your spouse is the higher earner, you may want to consider how you can use this disparity to your advantage when you collect Social Security. Specifically, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s earnings and Social Security record. You’ll want to consult your tax advisor before making any moves.
  • Protect yourself from long-term care costs. More than two-thirds of nursing home residents are women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And

the median rate nationwide for a private room in a nursing home is over $97,000 per year, according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Survey. Medicare generally pays very little for long-term care, so if you ever need these services, you’ll have to find other ways to pay for them. A financial professional can suggest some ideas.

As a woman, you face special financial challenges, and striving to overcome them will be a lifelong activity. But it’s worth the effort.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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Ahmir Young Uses ‘EGrassRoots’ To Promote, Develop Black-Owned Businesses

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In 2010, Ahmir Young did what any typical Facebook user would do, create a group based on his interest and gather like minds. At that time, he started the Black Owned Businesses group with eight people with the intention of gathering like minds locally.

“I was tired of spending money with people who don’t look like me nor care about me,” he said. “Racism is clear as day and we are still giving people who hate us our money. I didn’t know this group was going to turn into a movement.”

Fast forward to 2014, the EGrassRootsBusiness.com website was launched. The site is a place to feature black businesses in various states and cities, allow consumers to provide real-time reviews, encourage event producers to list their events, businesses develop their own coupons and promotions for those wanting to try them out or return again and allow people to spend money with known black businesses.

“Word of mouth is cool but dated in this economy. A business that is virtual can pick up customers from anywhere, but people need to know who you are,” he said.

Over 550 businesses are listed from a variety of categories within the firm to business and business to consumer. The site also has an app available in the Google Play and Apple stores for downloads with over 1,000 having the access. The Facebook group contains nearly 35,000 members.

While many argue black business initiatives and directories are dated, the census date proves different. There were 2.6 million black-owned firms in 2012, a 34 percent increase from 1.9 million in 2007. While 9.4 percent of all U.S. companies were black owned, the largest percentage was 19.2 percent within the health care and social assistance sector. The state of Georgia had the most black-owned businesses in 2012 totaling 256,848 companies with Florida coming second with 251,216.

Metro Atlanta has more black owned businesses 176,245 in 2012 than any other metro area. New York City’s Metro area had 250,890. Cook County Illinois has the most black-owned firms out of all the counties with 110,155. Detroit and Memphis had the largest concentration of black-owned businesses out of the largest 50 cities. Detroit had 77 percent whereas Memphis had 56.2 percent.

The EGrassRootsBusiness movement has also produced other fruits such as a black-owned business coupon book, the first known of its kind on a national level. The group also hosted local meetups in Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and various parts of the DMV region. It has also partnered with the South Fulton Business Coalition to work jointly on projects in the Fulton County area of the region.

“I want to see people get serious on a local level so we can do more on a national level,” he said. “It all starts in our backyards. There is so much more we all can do to support each other.”
There are also quiet successes within the movement from people finally starting their business, creating partnerships, finding the will to keep their struggling business going and several new life long connections.

“Those are the things you wouldn’t notice unless you had your eyes open. We have kept money in our community longer by passing referrals and making people think about using a black business for various services,” he said. “We always hear about how fast the dollar leaves our community and forever talk about it. Well, we are doing something about it.”

Many non-profits have thrived in the group, and a few members have started working on community issues together. Members give advisement and encouragement to each other while praising each other for accomplishments.

Young wants to eliminate all the excuses people come up with and the bashing of black businesses.

“You never hear other races bashing their businesses, they work it out and handle it. We can’t wait to blast someone,” he mentioned. “Many of us love to talk, but very few of us are willing to put in the effort. No reason why local meetups are not full and more people are not doing business with each other.”

EGrassRootsBusiness has a merchandise line from t-shirts, coffee mugs, laptop bags and much more. Young looks at it as a symbol to show who is truly a supporter of black-owned businesses. There have been conference calls to teach people business and other crucial information.

Many directories and initiatives have come and gone, but Young credits the efforts of the businesses, team members and patrons for keeping the movement going.

Team members include Dustin Queenan, Tamikka Goldsby, S. Elle Clark, Lakeisha Singletary, Rochelle Hayward-El and Lem Mobley.

“We’re consistent and continue to push ourselves to the limits. We are innovative and creative,” he said. “Everyone wants to see each other do well. We’re the networking event that never ends.”

Website: http://www.egrassrootsbusiness.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blackownedbusinesses/
Fan Page: Egrassroots Business

Publisher’s Disclosure: The writer and editor of this magazine is also the founder of South Fulton Business Coalition and a team member for Egrassroots Business project.

Article by Dominique Huff

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Is a Managed Account Right for You?

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As an investor, you’ll face many decisions over the years. How much should you invest? Where should you put your money? When is it time to sell some investments and use the proceeds to buy others? Some people enjoy making these choices themselves – but not everyone. Consequently, the type of investor you are will influence your thinking about whether to open a managed account.

As its name suggests, a managed account – sometimes known as an “advisory” account – essentially is a portfolio of stocks, bonds and other investments chosen by a professional investment manager who makes the buy and sell decisions. Typically, each managed account has an investment objective based on your goals, and you may have some voice in investment choices – for example, you may be able to request that the manager avoid certain investments. Or, you might still work with a personal financial advisor who can help you identify and quantify your goals, define your risk tolerance, and track changes in your family situation – and who can then use this information to help guide the investment manager’s choices.

Beyond this basic structure, managed accounts can vary greatly in terms of administration, reporting, fees and minimum balance.

So, assuming you meet the requirements for a managed account, should you consider one? There’s really no one right answer for everyone. But three factors to consider are cost, control and confidence.

  • Cost – Different managed accounts may have different payment arrangements. However, it’s common for a money manger to be paid based on a percentage of assets under management. So, if your manager’s fee is 1% and your portfolio contains $100,000, the manager earns $1,000 per year, but if the value of your portfolio rises to $200,000, the manager earns $2,000. Because the manager has a personal stake in the portfolio’s success, this arrangement could work to your advantage. Be aware, though, that other fees may be associated with your account.
  • Control – With any managed account, you will give up some, or perhaps all, of your power to make buy-and-sell decisions. If you have built a large portfolio, and you’re busy with work and family, you may like the idea of delegating these decisions. And, as mentioned above, you can still oversee the “big picture” by either working through a financial advisor or, at the least, having your goals, risk tolerance and investment preferences dictate a money manager’s decisions. But you will have to decide for yourself how comfortable you are in ceding control of your portfolio’s day-to-day transactions.
  • Confidence – It’s essential that you feel confident in a managed account’s ability to help you meet your goals. And the various elements of a managed account may well give you that assurance. For example, some managed accounts include automatic rebalancing of assets, which, among other things, can help you achieve tax efficiency. Other features of a managed account – such as the experience and track record of the manager – also may bolster your confidence.

Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh all factors before deciding whether a managed account is right for you. In any case, it’s an option worth considering.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

Dominique Magazine Reflects: Business Lessons Gleaned From Victor H. Green

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In honor of the late Victor H. Green, the publisher of the Negro Motorist Green Book, Dominique Magazine reviewed the history and many commentaries written by the staff of the guide including Green himself. The publication served as a tool that provided state by state listings where black motorists could stop for the night. It allowed travelers to have safe places to stop for food, gas and resting. The Negro Motorist Green Book enabled black drivers a mapping tool for a cross-country drive through towns with places to stay while avoiding “sundown towns” where no Blacks were allowed at night.

The book was published from 1937 to 1966 highlighted both black-owned businesses and white establishments that were willing to serve black customers. Green stated he looked forward to the day that printing his book would no longer be needed. He died in 1960 and the book published up until 1966. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. The heir of his empire, his wife, continued the operations until that time. She died in 1978. The Greens had no children.

“There will be a day sometime shortly when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States,” Green wrote in the 1949 edition. “It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication, for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes, we shall continue to publish this information each year.”

Over the years, we have many black business associations, black chambers of commerce, black networking groups, black business directories, and apps sprouted all over the marketplace to assist black consumers with black-owned firms. The premise of these entities was to encourage companies to market and promote themselves. As with the Green Book, many of these platforms struggle to capture firms who want to use the venues.

Assistant Editor Novera C. Dashiell documented Green’s lament in 1957 on how many black firms refused to advertise.

“He regrets the shortsightedness of most of our businessmen to see the urgent need and value of advertising. If a negro owned business is good, it can be better with advertising,” she wrote. “We can create our own name brands. We should have the patience to build. Build for yourselves and the future of our children.”

Green considered his publication a live example of patience. The outlet started out for Greater New York then expanded nationwide. He also, according to Dashiell, lamented the lack of interest among young people in the field of advertising.

“The need for trained personnel is acute. He urged more youngsters to take advantage of the opportunities offered,” she wrote. “This, in turn, will create greater achievements in our business ventures.”

In 2009, a panel of black media experts was featured in Black Enterprise Magazine discussing the issues impacting black media. The problems were Black Americans spend money on things not marketed towards them which can hinder media outlets from generating revenue. It also noted a push by many Fortune 500 companies for large market penetration has made it even more difficult for these outlets. The smaller audiences often are perceived as not a high return on investment.

In 2012, the Small Business Administration reported 2,584,403 black businesses were in operation comprising 9.5 percent of the total number of American companies. Blacks accounted for 12.6 of the population at that time. A black firm that year was reported to average $58,000 yearly in sales. However, Hispanic companies said $143,000 annually in sales, and white companies reported $546,000 in sales. Asians owned 7.1 percent of the operating businesses in 2012, Hispanics held 12.2 percent, and Whites owned 70.9 percent.

For a 1957 commentary, Dashiell’s words and Green’s thoughts apply 60 years later. Many of these black directories struggle to get black companies to advertise, and the lists, for the most part, could use a significant marketing push. Green’s mindset of allowing black people to shop and patronize whatever business they wanted to was an appropriate dream for the time. While some argue that black business leaders are promoting voluntary segregation with the ‘supporting black business’ movement, but I argue otherwise.

Case in point, the data shows that our firms make the least amount of money and granted, many blacks do open business in some of the lowest grossing industries as outlined by the SBA report, it can also be concluded that many of us still rely on ‘word of mouth’ and dated marketing practices. Granted, many firms often don’t have the budget or resources to make such investments whereas others just do not see the value. A goal of a business should extend beyond making a profit but creating a legacy to pass to your children or family. This is how generational wealth is built and distributed.

The Negro Green Book was able to thrive in an era where black motorists needed to be safe in their travels and also promoted businesses and services along the way. The same logic must be applied when addressing local firms and black-owned ones. Some argue they don’t want to be labeled as a black business but want black dollars. Think about how many major corporations study the black demographic and cater their marketing to capture those dollars. While we should have the home court advantage, we must recognize we have many obstacles that we’re competing with such as larger budgets, social media, digital marketing, multiple platforms, brand awareness and more. The climb is not an easy one but one that a company must be willing to take.

It’s time for more business owners to take marketing and advertising seriously and know who their customer is. Other races should not be able to study our marketplace better than us, and in fact, we should study theirs to capture dollars from their communities. Black businesses must recognize that chess is the name of the game and if we want our companies to be major brands, we must start thinking like a major brand. Dominique Magazine has that mindset, and we look at ourselves in being in the same realm of Madam Noire, a publication created for black women (which was founded by a black man named Jamarlin Martin) and other outlets. We don’t want to play it small, and no business that considers themselves a legacy should have this mindset. The tools are here, and it’s time for us to get to work.

So, develop that market strategy. Hire that consultant! Do that research and have a critical analysis of where you want your business to go. While Green and Dashiell cited this problem in 1957, we’re mentioning this issue in 2017, and we hope that by 2077, the business owners of the time would have captured this and excelled. It’s also our hope that Tenth Amendment Media Group, the parent company of Dominique Magazine thrives and prospers when the owner is no longer living so it can take care of his unborn children and future family.

Article by Dominique Magazine

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Consider Financial Gifts for All Your Valentines

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Valentine’s Day is almost here – and it’s a pretty big business. In fact, U.S. consumers spent about $18 billion on their valentines in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. Of course, recipients certainly appreciate flowers, candy, jewelry and so on, but this year, consider going beyond the traditional favorites to give your loved ones something more long-lasting – a financial gift.

And, while you’re doing so, why not also go beyond the traditional definition of a “valentine”? After all, not all that $18 billion went to spouses or significant others. A sizable amount also went to non-romantic connections, including children, parents, friends, teachers – even pets. So, in the spirit of ecumenical Valentine’s Day gift-giving, here are some suggestions for financial gifts for your loved ones:

  • For spouse or significant other – One valuable gift to your spouse or significant other might be an IRA contribution. While you can’t directly contribute to someone else’s IRA, you can certainly write a check to that person for that purpose. This gift is particularly valuable because many people have trouble coming up with the maximum annual IRA contribution, which, in 2018, is $5,500, or $6,500 for individuals 50 and older. As an alternative to an IRA contribution, you could give shares of a stock issued by a company whose products or services are enjoyed by your spouse or significant other.
  • For your children –  It’s never too soon to start saving for college for your children. Fortunately, you have a few attractive college-funding vehicles available, one of which is the 529 Savings Plan. You can generally invest in the plan offered by any state, even if you don’t live there. If you do invest in your own state’s plan, you might receive a tax incentive, which could include a deduction, match or credit. Plus, all withdrawals from 529 Savings Plans will be free from federal income taxes and, in most cases, state income taxes as well, as long as the money is used for qualified college or graduate school expenses of the beneficiary you’ve named. (If a withdrawal is taken from a 529 Savings Plan but not used for a qualified expense, the portion of the withdrawal representing earnings is subject to ordinary income tax and a 10% federal penalty.)
  • For your parents – You can probably find a number of thoughtful and valuable financial gifts for your parents. You could, for example, offer to pay a month’s worth of their premiums for their auto or health insurance. Even if they are on Medicare, they may still be paying for a supplemental policy, so your gift may well be appreciated. But you might want to go beyond helping them with just a single component of their financial situation and instead provide them with assistance for their “big picture.” To do so, you could arrange a visit with a trusted financial professional, assuming your parents aren’t already using one. This person could look at all issues, including investments, retirement accounts, long-term care and estate-related financial strategies, and then make appropriate recommendations and even referrals to other professionals.

Everyone likes the hearts, flowers and sweets of Valentine’s Day. Nonetheless, give some thought to making financial gifts – they can make a difference in your loved ones’ lives long after the chocolates are eaten and the roses have faded.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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Victor H Green: Pioneer Of The First Black Business Directory

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The Negro Motorist Green Book was a legendary guide to hotels and restaurants that accepted black customers.

“The idea crystallized when not only himself but several friends and acquaintances complained of the difficulties when encountered; often painful embarrassments suffered which ruined a vacation or business trip,” Novera C. Dashiell, Assistant Editor of the Green Book wrote in 1956.

Launched in 1936, the Negro Motorist Green Book was a guide that provided state by state listings where black motorists could stop for the night. It allowed travelers to have safe places to stop for food, gas, and resting. The Negro Motorist Green Book enabled black drivers a mapping tool for a cross-country drive through towns with places to stay while avoiding “sundown towns” where no Blacks were allowed at night. Restaurants, gas stations, and other services are also listed.

“The white traveler had no difficulty in getting accommodations, but with the Negro, it has been different. He, before the advent of a Negro travel guide, had to depend on word of mouth, and many times accommodations were not available,” he wrote in the intro to the 1955 edition. “The Negro traveler can depend on the Green Book for all the information he wants and has a wide selection to choose from. Hence the guide has made traveling more popular, without encountering embarrassing situations.”

During the era, many businesses often declined services to blacks, and many roads drove through ‘sundown towns’ often putting unsuspecting motorists at risk. Green started the booklet with the intention of going out of business.

“There will be a day sometime shortly when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States,” Green wrote in the 1949 edition. “It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication, or then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes, we shall continue to publish this information each year.”

This legendary guide to lodgings and restaurants that accepted Black customers has become a vital reminder of life before the Civil Rights Act, but surviving copies are museum items. Now, a small California publisher has reprinted the guide, making it available to those wishing to understand our history.

“Put a Green Book into someone’s hands, and an immediate understanding develops,” About Comics Publisher Nate Gertler explained. “Looking at this efficient guide, they comprehend how stifling segregation was.” Gone for fifty years, the guide now gets media attention – the New York Times called it a “beacon for Black travelers,” the Washington Post said it was “a game changer,” Newsweek called it “practical scripture” that “saved black lives on the road,” and NPR dubbed it “revolutionary.” The scarce original copies go for thousands of dollars.

The 1947 reprint just released ($8.99) joins 1940, 1954, and 1963 editions in the series. They are carried at the gift shops of major museums and historic sites, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. All are also available on Amazon.

“They remind us of a past that we still carry with us and warn of what may come again,” he said.

Green was born on November 9, 1892, in Manhattan, New York City. He was the oldest of three siblings. He started his U.S. Postal Service career in 1913, and by 1918, he married Alma (Duke) Green. The era of segregation led Green to create the Green Book starting in 1936. The Green Book printed 15,000 copies yearly. Esso Gas Stations (now ExxonMobil), one of the first companies to franchise gas stations to black business owners, sold the books.

Not much is known about Green’s life. He had no children and died in 1960 on an unknown date. His wife, Alma continued to print the book until 1966. The book ceased publication two years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. No details were known about his wife, and it was reported she died in 1978 on an unknown date.

To purchase a reprint of The Green Book, visit http://www.aboutcomics.com.

Article by Dominique Huff

FINANCIAL FOCUS – What Should You Do With Your Tax Refund?

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You may not get much of a thrill from filing your taxes, but the process becomes much more enjoyable if you’re expecting a refund. So, if one is headed your way, what should you do with the money?

The answer depends somewhat on the size of the refund. For the 2017 tax year, the average refund was about $2,760 – not a fortune, but big enough to make an impact in your life. Suppose, for example, that you invested this amount in a tax-deferred vehicle, such as a traditional IRA, and then did not add another penny to it for 30 years. At the end of that time, assuming a hypothetical 7 percent annual rate of return, you’d have slightly more than $21,000 – not enough, by itself, to allow you to move to a Caribbean island, but still a nice addition to your retirement income. (You will need to pay taxes on your withdrawals eventually, unless the money was invested in a Roth IRA, in which case withdrawals are tax-free, provided you meet certain conditions.)

Of course, you don’t have to wait 30 years before you see any benefits from your tax refund. If you did decide to put a $2,760 tax refund toward your IRA for 2018, you’d already have reached just over half the allowable contribution limit of $5,500. (If you’re 50 or older, the limit is $6,500.) By getting such a strong head start on funding your IRA for the year, you’ll give your money more time to grow. Also, if you’re going to “max out” on your IRA, your large initial payment will enable you to put in smaller monthly amounts than you might need to contribute otherwise.

While using your refund to help fund your IRA is a good move, it’s not the only one you can make. Here are a few other possibilities:

  • Pay down some debt. At some time or another, most of us probably feel we’re carrying too much debt. If you can use your tax refund to help reduce your monthly debt payments, you’ll improve your cash flow and possibly have more money available to invest for the future.
  • Build an emergency fund. If you needed a new furnace or major car repair, or faced any other large, unexpected expense, how would you pay for it? If you did not have the cash readily available, you might be forced to dip into your long-term investments. To help avoid this problem, you could create an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account. Your tax refund could help build your emergency fund.
  • Look for other investment opportunities. If you have some gaps in your portfolio, or some opportunities to improve your overall diversification, you might want to use your tax refund to add some new investments. The more diversified your portfolio, the stronger your defense against market volatility that might primarily affect one particular asset class. (However, diversification, by itself, can’t protect against all losses or guarantee profits.)

Clearly, a tax refund gives you a chance to improve your overall financial picture. So take your time, evaluate your options and use the money wisely.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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Paying for overtime with cash under the table is NOT a good practice!

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Reading through the USDOL press releases it appears that many companies have problems paying for overtime. Case after case show companies being fined for overtime violations and recordkeeping errors. At an average of about $250,000 per case, plus whatever the legal costs were, a lot of overtime could have been paid for without getting in trouble.

Under the table

One company in Southern California apparently tried to hide the fact they were not paying overtime at the required rate of time and a half. They would pay only a 40 hour straight time week and then pay for any hours over 40 by offering cash at the straight time rate. I imagine they thought that workers would be willing to accept that cash because they didn’t have to pay any taxes on the wages. The problem was, someone was not willing to be paid like that.

Missing the paperwork

As you can imagine the recordkeeping on these hours was also found to be lacking and that cost the company even more money. Of the $289,215 they had to pay I am sure the vast majority went to pay the fines levied by the USDOL as opposed to back wages to the 60 employees. Just not a wise business practice.

An additional problem they may have is the fact that they could probably be charged with tax evasion. They did not collect the payroll taxes on the “wages” paid in cash. I am pretty sure the IRS would not be happy about that.

Just don’t do it

Trying to come up with an alternative for paying overtime is just not worth it. While not all your employees are educated about wage and hour laws, there is likely to be one or two in your workgroup who have seen commercials by attorneys, or who have read an article online, that may then question your practice of not paying overtime. Plus, you are supposed to have the FLSA poster in your workplace that also tells them they are to be paid for working more than 40 hours in a week. Be a legal employer! It is not as expensive as you think and it is better for your reputation.

Article written by Mike Haberman

Mike Haberman

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Put a Trusted ‘Quarterback’ on Your Financial Team

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On February 4, the eyes of most of the country – and much of the rest of the world – will be on Minneapolis, site of Super Bowl LII. As a fan, you can admire the way Super Bowl quarterbacks direct their teams. But as an investor, you can learn something from the big game by putting together your own team to help you achieve your financial goals – and you may find it helpful to have your own “quarterback.”

Who should be on your team? Your financial strategy will involve investments, taxes and estate planning, so you will likely need a financial advisor, a tax professional and an attorney. Ideally, your financial advisor – the individual with the broadest view of your financial situation – should serve as the quarterback of this team. And, just as a quarterback on a football team must communicate clearly with his teammmates, so will your financial quarterback need to maintain consistent contact with the other team members.

Let’s look at a couple of basic examples as to how this communication might work.

First, suppose you are self-employed and contribute to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA. Because your contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. (In 2018, the maximum amount you can contribute is $55,000.) Your financial advisor can recommend investments you can choose from to help fund your SEP IRA. Yet you will want your financial  advisor to share all your SEP IRA information with your tax professional. When it’s near tax-filing time, your tax professional can then let you and your financial advisor know how much room you still have to contribute to your SEP IRA for the year, and how much you need to add to potentially push yourself into a lower tax bracket.

Now, let’s consider the connection between your financial advisor and your attorney – specifically, your attorney handling your estate planning arrangements. It’s essential that you and your financial advisor provide your attorney with a list of all your financial assets – IRAs, 401(k)s, investments held in brokerage accounts, insurance policies and so on. Your attorney will need this information when preparing your important legal documents, such as your will and living trust – after all, a key part of your estate plan is who gets what. But it’s imperative that you and your financial advisor convey some often-overlooked details that can make a big difference in the disposition of your estate. For example, your financial advisor might suggest that you review the beneficiary designations on your IRA, 401(k) and life insurance policies to make sure these designations are still accurate in light of changes in your life – new spouse, new children and others. These designations are meaningful and can even supersede the instructions you might leave in your will or living trust. Consequently, it’s important for you and your financial advisor to share this information with your attorney.

It can be challenging to meet all your financial objectives. But with the right team in place, and a quarterback to help lead it, you can keep moving toward those goals – and you might cut down on the “fumbles” along the way.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for Your Pre-retiree Checklist?

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Like everyone, you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle when you retire. But a successful retirement doesn’t just happen – it requires a lot of planning. And that’s why it’s a good idea to draw up a “pre-retiree checklist.”

Such a checklist might look like this:

__Twenty years before retirement: Try to estimate a “price tag” for your retirement, incorporating a variety of factors – where you might live, how much you might travel, what activities you’ll pursue, and so on. Then, assess if your retirement savings are on track to help you meet your expected costs. From this point, monitor your progress every year.

__Fifteen years before retirement: Although you’re still fairly far away from retirement, you’ll want to bring your goals and challenges into a clearer focus. For starters, try to establish a firmer target goal for the assets you’ll need during retirement. Also, consider your legacy goals and start developing your estate plans, if you haven’t already done so. You might also explore methods of dealing with potentially enormous long-term care costs, such as an extended stay in a nursing home. Solutions to long-term care may become much more expensive later in life.

__Ten years before retirement: At this stage, in addition to reviewing your target asset and spending levels, you’ll want to get more precise about how much income you can expect as a retiree, whether through your investments or retirement accounts (such as your 401(k) and IRA), or through some type of part-time work or consulting. Maintaining an adequate income flow is extremely important, because you could spend two or three decades as a retiree, and some of your expenses – health care in particular – will likely rise during the later years. It’s important to plan for health care and long-term care, given the costs and ability to qualify for coverage later in life.

__Five years before retirement: Re-evaluate your investment mix to help reduce the risk of having your portfolio vulnerable to a market downturn when you plan to retire. Generally speaking, stocks and other growth-oriented investments are more volatile than bonds and other income-producing vehicles. So, you may want to consider shifting some – but certainly not all – of your investment dollars from the “growth” portion of your portfolio to the “income” side.

__Two years before retirement: This close to retirement, you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to health-care expenses, so you may want to investigate Medicare supplemental policies. You’ll also want to ensure that you have an adequate emergency fund to cope with unexpected costs, such as major home repairs. In addition, you’ll want to think about whether you should take Social Security right away or if you can afford to wait until your monthly checks will be bigger.

__One year before retirement: Now it’s time for some key decisions: How much can you withdraw each year from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement accounts without running the risk of outliving your money? Have you lined up your health care coverage? And, finally, are you really set on retiring in a year or could you delay retirement to improve your financial picture?

This checklist isn’t exhaustive – but it can give you a good idea of the various issues you’ll need to consider on the long road to retirement. And the sooner you start planning for that journey, the better.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – When Do You Need a Financial Advisor?

If you could accomplish all your financial goals just by putting your paycheck

into the bank every couple of weeks, you wouldn’t need the services of a financial advisor. But life isn’t that simple – and so, at some point, you may realize you need some professional assistance. But when?

Actually, you might benefit from the services of a financial advisor during many life events, including the following:

  • Starting your career – When you’re starting out in your career, you may encounter several questions related to your benefits package. Should you contribute to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan? If so, how much, and where should you invest your money? Are the life and disability insurance policies offered by your employer sufficient for your needs? A financial advisor can help you answer these and other questions you may have.
  • Getting married – When you get married, you’ll have to decide if, and how, you want to combine your finances. Also, you and your spouse may have different attitudes about investing and different tolerances for risk. A financial professional can help you find common ground.
  • Changing jobs – When you switch jobs, what should you do with your old employer’s retirement plan? And how should you invest in the plan offered by your new employer? As was the case when you first began your career, you may find that a financial professional can help you make the right choices.
  • Facing a layoff or buyout – You may never go through a layoff, or take a buyout offer from an employer – but if either of these events happen, you will face some financial decisions. And during such a potentially stressful period, you may be tempted to make some financial moves that won’t be beneficial. A financial advisor can suggest some strategies that may help you keep your investment situation relatively intact until you land your next job.
  • Saving for college – If you have children whom you’d like to send to college someday, you’ll probably want to start putting money away as early as possible. A financial professional can show you the various college-savings vehicles, and help you choose the ones that are most appropriate for your needs.
  • Getting divorced – If you are fortunate, you won’t ever experience a divorce, but, if it does happen, you’ll want to get the professional assistance necessary to ensure fair outcomes for everyone. You’ll obviously need to work with an attorney, but you may find that, in the area of investments, a financial advisor also can be useful.
  • Entering retirement – As you near retirement, your key questions will switch – but not entirely – from putting money in to taking money out. How much can you withdraw each year from your 401(k) and IRA without running the risk of outliving your resources? When should you start taking Social Security? If you were to work a couple of years longer than you had originally intended, how would it affect your withdrawal strategies? Again, a financial advisor can help you with these issues.

As you can see, most important life events will carry some financial concerns. But you don’t have to face these challenges alone – and by getting the help you need, when you need it, you can ease the transition from one stage of life to another.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Improve Your Financial Fitness This Year?

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get healthier, you may already be taking the necessary steps, such as improving your diet and increasing your exercise. Of course, physical fitness is important to your well-being – but, at the same time, don’t forget about your financial fitness. Specifically, what can you do to ensure your investment situation is in good shape?

Here are a few “healthy living” suggestions that may also apply to your investment portfolio:

  • Build endurance – Just as exercise can help build your endurance for the demands of a long life, a vigorous investment strategy can help you work toward your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. In practical terms, this means you will need to own some investments with the potential to provide long-term growth. These are the investments that, ideally, you can hold on to for decades and eventually reap the benefits of capital appreciation. Of course, growth-oriented investments, such as most types of stocks, will rise and fall in value over the short term, and there’s no guarantee of profits, or even preserving principal. But if you choose wisely, and you’ve got the patience and discipline to hold on to your investments through the market’s ups and downs, you may well be rewarded.
  • Maintain an ideal “weight” – You can help yourself stay healthy by maintaining your ideal weight. This can be challenging – as you know from the recently finished holiday season, it’s easy to put on a few extra pounds. And, just as inadvertently, your portfolio can tack on some unneeded weight, too, in the form of redundant investments. Over time, you may have picked up too many similar investment vehicles, resulting in an overconcentration, or “flabbiness,” that can work against you, especially when a market downturn affects the asset class in which you’re overloaded. So, you might be better off liquidating some of your duplicate, or near-duplicate, investments, and using the proceeds to help broaden your investment mix.
  • Get proper rest – Many studies have shown that we need adequate rest to stay alert and healthy. In your life, you’ve probably already found that if you over-tax your body, you pay a price in your overall well-being. If you look at your investment portfolio as a living entity – which, in a way, it is, as it certainly provides life to your goals and aspirations – then you can see that it, too, can be weakened by stress. And one of the main stress factors is excessive trading. If you’re constantly buying and selling investments in an attempt to boost your returns, you may rack up hefty fees, commissions and taxes – and still not really get the results you wanted. Plus, if you’re frequently moving in and out of different investments, you’ll find it hard to follow a unified, long-term strategy. So, confine your trading to those moves that are really essential – and give your portfolio a rest.

To enjoy your life fully, you’ll want to take care of your physical and financial health – and, as it turns out, you can make similar types of moves to help yourself in both areas.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time is a Key Factor in Investing

With the arrival of the New Year, many of us will pause and ponder the age-old question: “Who knows where the time goes?” And, as is always the case, none of us really do know. However, wherever the time goes, it will usually be a key factor in your success as an investor.

Time can affect how you invest, and the results of your investing, in different ways:

  • Growth potential – Contrary to myth, there’s no real way to “get rich quick” when investing. To build wealth, you need patience – and time. If you own quality investments with growth potential, and you give them years – in fact, decades – to increase in value, your perseverance may be rewarded. Of course, there are no guarantees, and you’ll need the discipline to withstand the inevitable downturns along the way. But in describing how long he likes to keep his investments, renowned investor Warren Buffet says his favorite holding period is “forever.”
  • Targeted goals – To accumulate resources for retirement, you need to save and invest throughout your working life. But along the way, you’ll probably also have some shorter-term goals – making a down payment on a home, sending your children to college, taking a round-the-world trip, and so on. Each of these goals has a specific time limit and usually requires a specific amount of money, so you will need to choose the appropriate investments.
  • Risk tolerance – The element of time also will affect your tolerance for risk. When you have many decades to go until you retire, you can afford to take more risk with your investments because you have time to overcome periods of market volatility. But when you’re on the verge of retirement, you may want to lower the risk level in your portfolio. For example, you may want to begin moving away from some of your more aggressive, growth-oriented investments and move toward more income-producing vehicles that offer greater stability of principal. Keep in mind, though, that even during retirement, you’ll need your portfolio to provide enough growth opportunity at least to help keep you ahead of inflation.

Thus far, we have looked at ways in which time plays a role in how you invest. But there’s also an aspect of time that you may want to keep out of your investment strategies. Specifically, you might not want to try to “time” the market. The biggest problem with market timing is it’s just too hard. You essentially have to be right twice, selling at a market top and buying at the bottom. Also, as humans, we appear to be somewhat wired to think that an activity – especially a long-running activity – will simply continue. So, when the market goes up, we seem to expect it to keep rising, and when the market drops, we think it will continue dropping. This can lead to big mistakes, such as selling after a major market drop even though that can be the time when it may be much smarter to buy because prices are low.

As we’ve seen, the way you interact with time can affect your investment efforts. So, think carefully about how you can put all the days, months and years on your side. Time is the one asset you can’t replenish – so use it wisely.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for New Year’s Financial Resolutions

We’ve reached the end of another year – which means it’s just about time for some New Year’s resolutions. Would you like to study a new language, take up a musical instrument or visit the gym more often? All these are worthy goals, of course, but why not also add some financial resolutions?

Here are some ideas to think about:

  • Increase contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan. For 2018, you can contribute up to $18,500 (or $24,500 if you’re 50 or older) to your 401(k) or similar plan, such as a 403(b), for employees of public schools and some nonprofit groups, or a 457(b) plan, for employees of local governments. It’s usually a good idea to contribute as much as you can afford to your employer’s plan, as your contributions may lower your taxable income, while your earnings can grow tax-deferred. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.
  • Try to “max out” on your IRA. Even if you have a 401(k) or similar plan, you can probably still invest in an IRA. For 2018, you can contribute up to $5,500 to a traditional or Roth IRA, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older. (Income restrictions apply to Roth IRAs.) Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible, depending on your income, and your earnings can grow tax-deferred. Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but earnings can grow tax-free, provided you don’t start taking withdrawals until you are 59-1/2 and you’ve have had your account at least five years. You can put virtually any investment in an IRA, so it can expand your options beyond those offered in your 401(k) or similar plan.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund conaining three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money held in a low-risk, liquid account. This fund can help you avoid dipping into your long-term investments to pay for unexpected costs, such as a new furnace or a major car repair.
  • Control your debts. It’s never easy, but do what you can to keep your debts under control. The less you have to spend on debt payments, the more you can invest for your future.
  • Don’t overreact to changes in the financial markets. We’ve had a long run of rising stock prices – but it won’t last forever. If we experience a sharp market downturn in 2018, don’t overreact by taking a “time out” from investing. Market drops are a normal feature of the investment landscape, and you may ultimately gain an advantage by buying new shares when their prices are down.
  • Review your goals and risk tolerance. At least once in 2018, take some time to review your short- and long-term financial goals and try to determine, possibly with the help of a financial professional, if your investment portfolio is still appropriate for these goals. At the same time, you’ll want to re-evaluate your risk tolerance to ensure you’re not taking too much risk – or possibly too little risk – with your investments.

Do your best to stick with these resolutions throughout the coming year. At a minimum, they can help you improve your investment habits – and they may improve your financial picture far beyond 2018.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Are You a Snowbird? Protect Your Finances While You’re Gone

Winter is (just about) officially here – but you may soon be leaving it behind if you’re a snowbird. When you go, though, you’ll want to keep your financial situation from getting caught out in the cold.

These are a few suggestions you may want to consider:

  • Protect your home. If you’re like many people, your home is your biggest investment, so you’ll want to protect it while you’re away. You’re probably already familiar with the steps you should take, such as informing your neighbors that you’ll be gone, stopping your newspapers, forwarding your mail, using a timer to turn lights on and off, and so on. And these days, with smart phones and advanced security systems, you can look in on your home whenever you like.
  • Notify your bank. Recognizing the prevalence of identity theft, the fraud departments of many banks are getting more aggressive in spotting and denying unusual charges. Consequently, you’ll want to give your bank your temporary address and contact information before you leave. By doing so, you can reduce the risk of your account being frozen temporarily if your financial institution can’t reach you with questions about charges from an unexpected location. You might also find it useful to open a bank account at your snowbird site.
  • Gather your tax forms. If you’re gone most of the winter, you may bump up against the tax-filing deadline, which, in 2018, is April 17. So, to allow yourself enough time to prepare your taxes, or to have them prepared by a professional, gather your tax information before you leave. Make sure you’ve got all your investment-related forms, such as your 1099-INT (for interest income) and your 1099-DIV (for taxable capital gains and dividends).
  • Track your investments. You can probably track the progress of your investments online, and it’s a good idea to do so, just as you would at your permanent residence. Even if you’re only gone a couple of months, you may need to make some investment moves, such as “maxing out” on your IRA, so stay on top of your accounts and contact your investment professional, as needed. As always, though, don’t overreact to sudden market swings – ideally, you’ve got long-term strategies in place that can serve your needs in most investment environments. In any case, it also wouldn’t hurt to notify your financial professional that you’ll be away for a while, even if you typically only see him or her a couple of times a year.
  • Arrange for bill payments. If you handle most of your bills online or through auto-pay, you won’t have to worry about missing a payment while you’re gone. Still, if you take care of some bills the old-fashioned way, with checks, envelopes and stamps, you may want to give yourself some sort of reminder of when these payments are due.
  • Be careful on social media. To be on the safe side, you may not want to trumpet your extended time away from home on Facebook or other social media platforms. It’s sad but true that identity thieves watch for information like this.

In all likelihood, you’ll enjoy being a snowbird – and by making the above moves, you’ll have less financial baggage to deal with when you take off.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time to Review Your Investment Strategy for the Year

As the year draws to a close, it’s a good time to review your progress toward your financial goals. But on what areas should you focus your attention?

Of course, you may immediately think about whether your investments have done well. When evaluating the performance of their investments for a given year, many people mistakenly think their portfolios should have done just as well as a common market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. But the S&P 500 is essentially a measure of large-company, domestic stocks, and your portfolio probably doesn’t look like that – nor should it, because it’s important to own an investment mix that aligns with your goals, risk tolerance and return objectives. It’s this return objective that you should evaluate over time – not the return of an arbitrary benchmark that isn’t personalized to your goals and risk tolerance.

Your return objective will likely evolve. If you are starting out in your career, you may need your portfolio to be oriented primarily toward growth, which means it may need to be more heavily weighted toward stocks. But if you are retiring in a few years, you may need a more balanced allocation between stocks and bonds, which can address your needs for growth and income.

So, assuming you have created a long-term investment strategy that has a target rate of return for each year, you can review your progress accordingly. If you matched or exceeded that rate this past year, you’re staying on track, but if your return fell short of your desired target, you may need to make some changes. Before doing so, though, you need to understand just why your return was lower than anticipated.

For example, if you owned some stocks that underperformed due to unusual circumstances – and even events such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma can affect the stock prices of some companies – you may not need to be overly concerned, especially if the fundamentals of the stocks are still sound. On the other hand, if you own some investments that have underperformed for several years, you may need to consider selling them and using the proceeds to explore new investment opportunities.

Investment performance isn’t the only thing you should consider when looking at your financial picture over this past year. What changed in your life? Did you welcome a new child to your family? If so, you may need to respond by increasing your life insurance coverage or opening a college savings account. Did you or your spouse change jobs? You may now have access to a new employer-sponsored retirement account, such as a 401(k), so you’ll need to decide how much money to put into the various investments within this plan. And one change certainly happened this past year: You moved one year closer to retirement. By itself, this may cause you to re-evaluate how much risk you’re willing to tolerate in your investment portfolio, especially if you are within a few years of your planned retirement.

Whether it is the performance of your portfolio or changes in your life, you will find that you always have some reasons to look back at your investment and financial strategies for one year – and to look ahead at moves you can make for the next.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Can You Afford to Retire Early?

Some people dream of retiring early. Are you one of them? If so, you’ll need to plan ahead – because a successful early retirement can’t be achieved through last-minute moves.

So, if you’re determined to retire early, consider taking the following steps:

  • Pick a date. Early retirement means different things to different people. But it’s important to pick an exact age, whether it is 60, 62, 64, or whatever, so you can build an appropriate retirement income strategy.
  • Think about your retirement lifestyle. You may know that you want to retire early – but have you thought about what you want to do with your newfound time? Will you simply stay close to home and pursue your hobbies? Do you dream of spending two months each winter on a tropical island? Or are you thinking of opening your own small business or doing some consulting? Different retirement lifestyles can have vastly different price tags. Once you’ve envisioned your future, you can develop a saving and investment plan to help you get there.
  • Boost contributions to your retirement plans. If you want to retire early, you may well need to accelerate your contributions to your retirement accounts, such as your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan. You may need to cut back in other areas of your life to maximize the amounts you put into your retirement plans, but this sacrifice may be worth it to you.
  • Invest for growth. Your investment strategy essentially should be based on three key factors: your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. When you change any one of these variables, it will affect the others. So, if you shorten your time horizon by retiring early, you may well need to reconsider your risk tolerance. Specifically, you may need to accept a somewhat higher level of investment risk so you can invest for greater growth potential.
  • Keep a lid on your debt load.  It’s easier said than done, but try to manage your debt load as tightly as possible. The lower your monthly debt payments, the more you can contribute to your retirement plans.

Life is unpredictable. Even if you take all the steps described above, you may still fall short of your goal of retiring early. While this may be somewhat disappointing, you might find that adding just a few more years of work can be beneficial to building resources for your chosen retirement lifestyle. For one thing, you can continue contributing to your IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan.

Plus, if you’re still working, you may be able to afford delaying your Social Security payments until you’re closer to your “normal” retirement age, which, as defined by the Social Security Administration, likely will be 66 or 67. The longer you put off taking these benefits, the bigger your monthly checks, although they will max out once you reach 70.

And even if you are not able to retire early, some of the moves you took to reach that goal – such as contributing as much as you could afford to your IRA and 401(k), controlling your debts, and so on – may pay off for you during your retirement – whenever it begins.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Take Action on ‘Giving Tuesday’… and Beyond

You probably already know about the two big shopping days – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – that follow Thanksgiving. But did you know that Giving Tuesday is observed on Nov. 28? By showing your generosity on this day and throughout the holiday season, you can benefit charitable organizations and your loved ones – and your gifts can even provide you with some potential financial advantages.

So, what sort of gifts should you consider? Here are a couple of suggestions for the charitable organizations you support:

  • Give cash. Any charitable group will welcome cash contributions. And if the charity has 501(c)(3) status (named after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs such groups), your gift can offer you a tax deduction. So, for example, if you are in the 25 percent tax bracket and you give $1,000 to a qualified charity, you will be able to deduct $250 from your taxes. (You will need to itemize deductions to gain this tax benefit.) Generally speaking, your maximum deduction is limited to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income.

You might be able expand the reach of your cash gifts through your workplace. Some companies will match some of your contributions to charitable organizations. Also, your employer may allow you to apply for larger grants to support nonprofit groups, especially those in which many employees are actively involved.

  • Donate appreciated stocks. If you have stocks that have grown significantly in value, you may want to donate them to a charitable group. You will be allowed a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the gift on the date of the transfer, even if your original cost was only a fraction of today’s value. Furthermore, you will avoid the capital gains taxes you’d have to pay if you sold the stock, provided you’ve held the stock for at least a year.

You don’t have to restrict your giving to charitable groups. If you have children or grandchildren, you might want to provide them with the gift of higher education by contributing to a 529 college savings plan.

A 529 plan offers several benefits. Contribution limits vary from state to state, but are generally quite high – you can accumulate more than $200,000 per beneficiary in many state plans, although special gifting provisions may apply. And you can typically invest in the 529 plan offered by any state, even if you don’t live there, although you might not receive the tax benefits – such as deductions or tax credits – you’d get if you invested in your own state’s plan.

Also, all withdrawals from 529 plans are free from federal income taxes, and possibly from state income taxes, as long as the money is used for a qualified college or graduate expense of the beneficiary you’ve named – typically, your child or grandchild. (Withdrawals for expenses other than qualified education expenditures may be subject to federal, state and penalty taxes.) Be aware, though, that 529 plans may affect financial aid, particularly if you’ve set up a plan for your grandchild, so you might want to consult with a college’s financial aid office before the child heads off to school.

Through your gifts to charitable groups and your family members, you can take the spirit of Giving Day and extend it throughout the holiday season – and even beyond.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – During Holidays, Be Extra Vigilant About Protecting Financial Data

To help achieve your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you should save and invest regularly. But that’s only part of the picture. You also need to protect your financial assets in various ways. One such method is guarding your personal information – especially any information that could be linked to your financial accounts. It’s obviously important to be vigilant at any time, but you need to be even more on your toes during the holiday season, when fraudsters are particularly active.

So, to help keep your important data under wraps during the holidays, consider these suggestions:

  • Extend your protection to all mobile devices. Identity thieves can now compromise your mobile devices by installing spyware that steals usernames, passwords and credit card information. Fortunately, you can fight back. By doing a little research online, you can find the best mobile security software for your needs.
  • Use multiple passwords. Online security specialists recommend that you use different passwords for each new online shopping site you visit during the holiday season. Although this might seem like a hassle, it can be helpful, because even if identity thieves were to grab one of your new passwords, they still couldn’t use it for other sites you may visit. And you can even find a free online program that can help you keep track of all your passwords.
  • Be suspicious of “huge savings.” It happens every holiday season – identity thieves develop fake sites with attractive graphics and stunningly low prices on a variety of items, especially digital devices. If you fall for these pitches, you won’t get any merchandise, but you might get a handful of headaches once the bad guys have your credit card number and other personal information. To prevent this, be wary of any deal that sounds too good to be true, and do some digging on the websites that offer these mega-savings.
  • Watch for fake shipping notices. During the holidays, when you may do a lot of online shopping, you will probably receive some legitimate shipping notices. But the bad guys have gotten pretty good at generating fake notices designed to resemble those from UPS, FedEx and even the U.S. Postal Service. If you were to click on the link provided by one of these bogus notices, you could either take on some malware or get taken to a “phishing” website created by the shipping notice forgers. Your best defense: Only shop with legitimate merchants and only use the tracking numbers given to you in the email you received immediately after making your purchases.
  • Keep your Social Security number to yourself. As a general rule, don’t give out your Social Security number online — to anyone. No legitimate retailer needs this number.

Finally, be aware that not all attempts at stealing your personal information will come online. When you’re out shopping at old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar stores, consider bringing just one credit card with you — and protect that card from prying eyes.

By following these precautions, you should be able to greatly reduce the risk of being victimized by identity thieves and other miscreants. And the more comfortable you are in doing your holiday shopping, the more you can enjoy the season.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Share Your Financial “Abundance” With Your Family?

Thanksgiving is almost here. Ideally, this day should be about more than football and the imminent arrival of Black Friday mega-sales. After all, the spirit of the holiday invites us to be grateful for what we have and for the presence of our loved ones.

But it’s important to look beyond just one day in November if you want your family to take part in your “abundance.” If you want to ensure your financial resources eventually are shared in the way you envision, you will need to follow a detailed action plan, including these steps:

  • Identify your assets. If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of all your financial assets – your retirement accounts (401(k) and IRA), other investments, life insurance, real estate, collectibles and other items. Once you know exactly what you have, you can determine how you would like these assets distributed among your loved ones.
  • Get professional help. To ensure your assets go to the right people, you will need to create some legal documents, such as a will and a living trust. The depth and complexity of these instruments will depend a great deal on your individual circumstances, but in any case, you certainly will need to consult with a legal professional because estate planning is not a “do-it-yourself” endeavor. You may also need to work with a tax professional and your financial advisor, as taxes and investments are key components of the legacy you hope to leave.
  • Protect your financial independence. If your own financial resources were to become endangered, you clearly would have less to share with your loved ones, and if your financial independence were jeopardized, the result might be even worse – your adult children might be forced to use their own resources to help support you. Consequently, you will need to protect yourself, and your financial assets, in several ways. For one thing, you may want to work with your legal professional to create a power of attorney, which would enable someone – possibly a grown child – to make financial decisions for you, should you become incapacitated. Also, you may want to guard yourself against the devastating costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay. Medicare typically pays very little of these expenses, but a financial advisor may be able to suggest techniques or products that can help.
  • Communicate your wishes. Once you have all your plans in place, you’ll want to communicate them to your loved ones. By doing so, you’ll be sparing your loved ones from unpleasant surprises when it’s time to settle your estate. And, second, by making your plans and wishes known to your family well in advance of when any action needs to be taken, you’ll prepare your loved ones for the roles you wish them to assume, such as taking on power of attorney, serving as executor of your estate, and so on. And you’ll also want to make sure your family is acquainted with the legal, tax and financial professionals you’ve chosen to help you with your estate plans.

Thanksgiving comes just once a year. Taking the steps described here can help ensure your family will share in your financial abundance as you intended.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Stampeding Bull Market May Slow Down … So Be Prepared

As you know, we’ve been enjoying a long period of steadily rising stock prices. Of course, this bull market won’t last forever – and when it does start losing steam, you, as an investor, need to be prepared.

Before we look at how you can ready yourself for a new phase in the investment environment, let’s consider some facts about the current situation:

  • Length – This bull market, which began in 2009, is the second-oldest in the past 100 years – and it’s about twice as long as the average bull market.
  • Strength – Since the start of this long rally, the stock market has produced an average annualized gain of 15.5% per year.

While these figures are impressive, they aren’t necessarily predictive – so how much longer can this bull market continue to “stampede”? No one can say for sure, but there’s no mandatory expiration date for bull markets – in fact, they don’t generally die of old age, but typically expire either because of a recession or the bursting of a bubble, such as the “dot.com” bubble of 2000 or the housing bubble of 2007. And right now, most market experts don’t see either event on the near-term horizon.

Still, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect an uninterrupted streak of big gains. Some signs point to greater market volatility and lower returns. To navigate this changing landscape, think about these suggestions:

  • Consider rebalancing your portfolio. If appropriate, you may want to rebalance your investment mix to ensure you have a reasonable percentage of stocks – to help provide the growth you need to achieve your goals – and enough fixed-income vehicles, such as bonds, to help reduce your portfolio’s vulnerability to market volatility and potential short-term downturns.
  • Look beyond U.S. borders. At any given time, U.S. stocks may be doing well, while international stocks are slumping – and vice versa. So, when volatility hits the U.S. markets – as it surely will, at some time – you can help reduce the impact on your portfolio if you also own some international equities. Keep in mind, though, that international investments bring some specific risks, such as currency fluctuations and foreign political and economic events.
  • Develop a strategy. You may want to work with a financial professional to identify a strategy to cope with a more turbulent investment atmosphere. Such a strategy can keep you from overreacting to market downturns and possibly even help you capitalize on short-term pullbacks. You could invest systematically by putting the same amount of money in the same investments each month. When prices go up, your investment dollars will buy fewer shares, and when prices drop, you’ll buy more shares. And the more shares you own, the greater your potential for accumulation. However, this strategy, sometimes known as dollar cost averaging, won’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses, and you need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.

During a raging bull market, it’s not all that hard for anyone to invest successfully. But it becomes more challenging when the inevitable volatility and market downturns appear. Making the moves described above can help you keep moving toward your goals – even when the “bull” has taken a breather.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Checklist for Helping You Choose a Financial Professional

For reasons likely to remain obscure, October 30 is Checklist Day. But while the origins of this observance may be a mystery, the value of checklists is clear: They help us organize our time and break large jobs into manageable steps. You can use a checklist for just about any significant endeavor – including the task of choosing a financial professional to help you achieve your important goals.

Here’s what such a checklist might look like:

__Find someone with the proper credentials. Make sure a prospective financial professional has the appropriate securities registrations.

__Find someone who has worked with people like you. You’ll want to seek out a financial professional who has experience working with people in circumstances similar to yours – that is, people of your financial status and with essentially the same goals and attitudes toward investing.

­__Find someone who will communicate with you regularly. During the course of your relationship with a financial professional, you will have many questions: Are my investments performing as they should? Should I change my investment mix? Am I still on track to meet my long-term goals? Plus, you will have changes in your life – new children, new jobs, new activities – that will affect your financial picture and that need to be communicated to your financial professional. Consequently, you need to be sure that whomever you work with is easy to reach and will be in regular contact with you. Many financial professionals meet with their clients at least once a year to discuss the clients’ portfolios and recommend changes, as needed, and also make themselves available, through phone calls and email, for any questions or concerns their clients may have.

__Find someone who will honor your preferences. Some financial professionals follow certain philosophies. For example, you might find one advisor who tends to favor aggressive investing, while another one might be more conservative. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, but you’ll want to be sure that your preferences take precedence in all recommendations and guidance you receive from a financial professional. And many professionals won’t express any of their own preferences at all, but will instead follow a course of action based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

__Find someone connected to other professionals. Your investment plans don’t exist in a vacuum. Over time, you will likely need to integrate elements of your investment strategy with your tax and estate planning strategies. When this happens, you may find it advantageous to have a financial professional who can work with tax and legal professionals to help you meet all your needs in these areas.

__Find someone whose compensation structure is acceptable to you. Financial professionals get paid in different ways – through fees, commissions or a combination of both. Which method is best for you, as an investor? There’s no one “right” answer – but you will certainly want to understand exactly how your financial professional will get paid and how this pay structure will affect your interactions with him or her.

You may find this checklist to be useful when you interview financial professionals. Take your time and make sure you’re confident about your ultimate choice. After all, you’re hiring someone to help you reach your key goals, such as a comfortable retirement, so you’ll want to get the right person on your side.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Put Lessons From “Retirement Week” to Work

To raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement, Congress has designated the third week of October as National Save for Retirement Week. What lessons can you learn from this event?

First of all, save early – and save often. Too many people put off saving for retirement until they are in their late 40s – and even their 50s. If you wait until you are in this age group, you can still do quite a bit to help build the resources you will need for retirement – but it will be more challenging than if you had begun saving and investing while you were in your 20s or early 30s. For one thing, if you delay saving for retirement, you may have to put away large sums of money each year to accumulate enough to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Plus, to achieve the growth you need, you might have to invest more aggressively than you’d like, which means taking on more risk. And even then, there are no guarantees of getting the returns you require.

On the other hand, if you start saving and investing when you are still in the early stages of your career, you can make smaller monthly contributions to your retirement accounts. And by putting time on your side, you’ll be able to take advantage of compounding – the ability to earn money on your principal and your earnings.

Here’s another lesson to be taken from National Save for Retirement Week: Maximize your opportunities to invest in the tax-advantaged retirement accounts available to you, such as an IRA and a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you have a 401(k)-type plan at work, contribute as much as you can afford every year, and increase your contributions whenever your salary goes up. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

Apart from saving and investing early and contributing to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, how else can you honor the spirit of National Save for Retirement Week? A key step you can take is to reduce the barriers to building your retirement savings. One such obstacle is debt. The larger your monthly debt payments, the less you will be able to invest each month. It’s not easy, of course, to keep your debt under control, but do the best you can.

One other barrier to accumulating retirement resources is the occasional large expense resulting from a major car repair, sizable medical bills or other things of that nature. If you constantly have to dip into your long-term investments to meet these costs, you’ll slow your progress toward your retirement goals. To help prevent this from happening, try to build an emergency fund big enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Since you’ll need instant access to this money, you’ll want to keep it in a liquid, low-risk account.

So, there you have them: some suggestions on taking the lessons of National Save for Retirement Week to heart. By following these steps, you can go a long way toward turning your retirement dreams into reality.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – International Investing: Still a Journey to Consider

Columbus Day is observed on October 9. And while it may be true that Leif Erikson and the Vikings beat Columbus to the New World, Columbus Day nonetheless remains important in the public eye, signifying themes such as exploration and discovery. As an investor, you don’t have to “cross the ocean blue,” as Columbus did, to find opportunities – but it may be a good idea to put some of your money to work outside the United States.

So, why should you consider investing internationally? The chief reason is diversification. If you only invest in U.S. companies, you might do well when the U.S. markets are soaring, as has happened in recent years. But when the inevitable downturn happens, and you’re totally concentrated in U.S. stocks, your portfolio will probably take a hit. At the same time, however, other regions of the world might be doing considerably better than the U.S. markets – and if you had put some of your investment holdings in these regions, you might at least blunt some of the effects of the down market here.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to diversify among different asset classes, so, in addition to investing in U.S. and international stocks, you’ll want to own bonds, government securities and other investment vehicles. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can help reduce the effects of volatility, it can’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss.)

International investments, like all investments, will fluctuate in value. But they also have other characteristics and risks to consider, such as these:

  • Currency fluctuations – The U.S. dollar rises and falls in relation to the currencies of other countries. Sometimes, these movements can work in your favor, but sometimes not. A strengthening dollar typically lowers returns from international investments because companies based overseas do business in a foreign currency, and the higher value of the U.S. dollar reduces the prices, measured in dollars, of individual shares of these companies’ stocks. The opposite has happened in 2017, when the weaker dollar has helped increase returns from international investments.
  • Political risks – When you invest internationally, you’re not just investing in foreign companies – you’re also essentially investing in the legal and economic systems of countries in which those companies do business. Political instability or changes in laws and regulations can create additional risks – but may also provide potentially positive returns for investors.
  • Social and economic risks – It is not always easy for investors to understand all the economic and social factors that influence markets in the U.S. – and it’s even more challenging with foreign markets.

U.S. markets are now worth less than half of the total world markets, and growth in the rest of the world is likely to keep expanding the number of global opportunities. You can take advantage of that global growth by putting part of your portfolio into international investments, including developed and emerging markets.

In any case, given the more complex nature of international investing, you’ll want to consult with a financial professional before taking action. If it turns out that international investments are appropriate for your needs, you should certainly consider going global.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Consider Multiple Factors When Creating Retirement Plans

When you create your financial and investment strategies for retirement, what will you need to know? In other words, what factors should you consider, and how will these factors affect your investment-related decisions, before and during your retirement?

Consider the following:

  • Age at retirement – Not surprisingly, your retirement date likely will be heavily influenced by your financial situation – so, if you have to keep working, that’s what you’ll do. But if you have a choice in the matter, your decision could have a big impact on your investment strategy. For example, if you want to retire early, you may need to save and invest more aggressively than you would if you plan to work well past typical retirement age. Also, your retirement date may well affect when you start accepting Social Security payments; if you retire early, you might have to start taking your benefits at age 62, even though your monthly checks will be considerably smaller than if you waited until your “full” retirement age, which is likely to be 66 or 67.
  • Retirement lifestyle – Some people want to spend their retirement years traveling from Athens to Zanzibar, while others simply want to stay close to home and family, pursuing quiet, inexpensive hobbies. Clearly, the lifestyle you choose will affect how much you need to accumulate before you retire and how much you will need to withdraw from your various investment accounts once you do.
  • Second career – Some people retire from one career only to begin another. If you think you’d like to have a “second act” in your working life, you might need some additional training, or you might just put your existing expertise to work as a consultant. If you do launch a new career, it could clearly affect your financial picture. For one thing, if you add a new source of earned income, you might be able to withdraw less from your retirement accounts each year. (Keep in mind, though, that once you reach 70 ½, you will have to take at least some withdrawals from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.) On the other hand, if you keep earning income, you can continue putting money into a traditional IRA (until you’re

70 ½) or a Roth IRA (indefinitely) and possibly contribute to a retirement plan for the self-employed, such as a SEP-IRA or an “owner-only” 401(k).

  • Philanthropy – During your working years, you may have consistently donated money to charitable organizations. And once you retire, you may want to do even more. For one thing, of course, you can volunteer more of your time. But you also might want to set up some more permanent method of financial support. Consequently, you might want to work with your legal advisor and financial professional to incorporate elements of your investment portfolio into your estate plans to provide more support for charitable groups.

As you can see, your retirement goals can affect your investment strategy – and vice versa. So, think carefully about what you want to accomplish, plan ahead and get the help you need. It takes time and effort to achieve a successful retirement, but it’s worth it.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Here’s Your Retirement Countdown

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If you want to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you don’t need to have been born rich or even to have earned scads of money during your working years. But you do need to make the right moves at the right time – which means you might want to start a “retirement countdown” well before you draw your final paycheck.

What might such a countdown look like? Here are a few ideas:

  • Ten years before retirement – At this stage of your career, you might be at, or at least near, your peak earning capacity. At the same time, your kids may have grown and left the home, and you might even have paid off your mortgage. All these factors, taken together, may mean that you can afford to “max out” on your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. And that’s exactly what you should do, if you can, because these retirement accounts offer tax benefits and the opportunity to spread your dollars around a variety of investments.
  • Five years before retirement – Review your Social Security statement to see how much you can expect to receive each month at various ages. You can typically start collecting benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be significantly larger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be 66 (and a few months) or 67. Your payments will be bigger still if you can afford to wait until 70, at which point your benefits reach their ceiling. In any case, you’ll need to weigh several factors – your health, your family history of longevity, your other sources of retirement income – before deciding on when to start taking Social Security.
  • One to three years before retirement – To help increase your income stream during retirement, you may want to convert some – but likely not all – of your growth-oriented investments, such as stocks and stock-based vehicles, into income-producing ones, such as bonds. Keep in mind, though, that even during your retirement years, you’ll still likely need your portfolio to provide you with some growth potential to help keep you ahead of inflation.
  • One year before retirement – Evaluate your retirement income and expenses. It’s particularly important that you assess your health-care costs. Depending on your age at retirement, you may be eligible for Medicare, but you will likely need to pay for some supplemental coverage as well, so you will need to budget for this.

Also, as you get closer to your actual retirement date, you will need to determine an appropriate withdrawal rate for your investments. How much should you take each year from your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts? The answer depends on many factors: the size of these accounts, your retirement lifestyle, your projected longevity, whether you’ve started taking Social Security, whether your spouse is still working, and so on. A financial professional can help you determine an appropriate withdrawal rate.

These aren’t the only steps you need to take before retirement, nor do they need to be taken in the precise order described above. But they can be useful as guidelines for a retirement countdown that can help ease your transition to the next phase of your life.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Five Tips for Women Business Owners

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Women are an integral part of the workforce, but they have had to overcome many obstacles along the way. Of course, challenges still remain, but women’s success in the working world is worth commemorating – which will happen on American Business Women’s Day Sept. 22. Are you a woman considering “setting up shop” on your own?  If so, here are five tips to consider:

  • Balance your goals. It’s possible – perhaps even likely – that your business goals will conflict with your personal financial goals. After all, if you’re purchasing new equipment or services for your business, you’ve got less money – at least for the time being – to put away for your own retirement or your children’s education. Hopefully, your investment in your business will pay off in greater income, but, in any case, you will need to balance your personal and professional goals.
  • Create a retirement plan. As mentioned above, your ability to contribute to a retirement plan may be affected by the amount you put into your business – but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a retirement plan. In fact, for your future financial security, it’s essential that you launch such a plan. Fortunately, small-business owners have a choice of plans, including an “owner-only” 401(k), SEP-IRA and SIMPLE IRA. Although the various plans have different requirements and contribution limits, they all offer tax-deferred earnings, which means your money has the opportunity to grow faster than if it were placed in a vehicle on which you paid taxes every year. (Taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty.) Plus, your contributions to a retirement plan may be tax deductible.
  • Arrange for “backup.” Virtually all working women are familiar with the conflict between their careers and their roles as caregivers. Women are still more likely than men to drop out of the workforce for an extended period of time to care for young children or elderly parents. And your caregiving responsibilities won’t end just because you are now a business owner. Consequently, you need to have someone you trust available to step in for you when your family obligations call you away from work.
  • Design a succession plan. When you want to retire, would you like to keep the business in your family? If so, you’ll need to create a succession plan that works for you and whomever you’d like to take control. Such a plan can be complex, so you will need to work with your legal and tax advisors – and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to work out the details.
  • Build an emergency fund. Maintaining an adequate cash flow will always be a key task – one that involves your sales, billing cycles, inventory and other elements of your business. One way you can help yourself avoid troubles is to maintain an emergency fund consisting of a few months’ worth of your business expenses. You’ll want to keep this fund in a liquid, low-risk account.

Running your own business can be extremely rewarding, but it’s never going to be an easy road. However, with perseverance and careful planning, you can smooth out some of the bumps along the way — and give yourself reason to celebrate American Business Women’s Day.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Protect Three Key Goals With Life Insurance

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September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. And “awareness” is an appropriate designation, because many people remain unaware of the many ways in which life insurance can help families meet their key financial goals. Here are three of the biggest of these objectives, as seen through the eyes of a hypothetical couple, Jim and Joan:

  • Pay off mortgage – Jim and Joan have a 30-year mortgage. If one of them dies well before that mortgage is paid off, could the other one afford to keep making payments to remain in the house with the children? It might be quite difficult – many families absolutely need two incomes to pay a mortgage, along with all the other costs of living. At the very least, the death of either Jim or Joan would likely put an enormous financial strain on the surviving spouse. But with the proceeds of a life insurance policy, the survivor could continue making the house payments – or possibly even pay the mortgage off completely, depending on the size of the policy and other financial considerations.
  • Educate children – Higher education is important to Jim and Joan, and they’d like to see both of their young children eventually go to college. Of course, college is expensive: For the 2016-17 school year, the average cost (tuition, fees, room and board) was about $20,000 for in-state students at public universities and more than $45,000 for private schools, according to the College Board. And these costs are likely to continue climbing. Jim and Joan have started putting money away in a tax-advantaged 529 savings plan, but if something were to happen to one of them, the surviving spouse might be hard pressed to continue these savings at the same level – or at any level. But the proceeds of a life insurance death benefit could be enough to fund some, or perhaps all, of the college costs for Jim and Joan’s children.
  • Provide for family’s future – Jim and Joan’s future income is their most valuable asset as they continue working. However, an unexpected death could leave this dual-income family with a single income that may not cover all financial obligations and retirement contributions – or even preserve the family’s current lifestyle. Life insurance could help cover these needs. Plus, the death benefit to the family may be tax-free.

Clearly, a life insurance policy could allow Jim or Joan to continue on with life, despite, of course, the devastating emotional loss of a partner. But how much insurance should they own? You might read that most people need a death benefit of seven to 10 times their annual income. This might be a good starting point, but everyone’s situation is different. You should consider all factors – including liabilities, income replacement, final expenses and education – to get an accurate picture of how much insurance is appropriate. A financial professional can help you with this calculation.

During Life Insurance Awareness Month, take some to time review your insurance situation. You may already have some life insurance, but it’s a good idea to review your coverage to make certain the amount and type of insurance is still appropriate for your needs.  As we’ve seen, the right coverage can make a huge difference in the lives of your loved ones.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

5 Tips to Recapture Your Wealth

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Did you know that many American’s transfer away between $2,000,000 and $5,000,000 of their wealth over a lifetime.  Yes, millions according to U.S. News and World Report.

Could you be one of them?

The truth is we will all transfer away wealth but we all have the opportunity to recapture a good chunk of that if we know the rules of the game.

After 20 years of working in almost every capacity in the financial industry, I have learned one important thing:  the rules of the game are not taught to us.

Why?  I will let you draw your own conclusions, but hope these points will help you make better financial decisions and allow you to recapture some of your hard-earned money.

First, what are the major wealth transfers in someone’s financial life:  taxes, fees paid to financial firms and the cost educating college students.

Here are few tips that could help you recapture that money:

  1. If you are invested in mutual funds, STOP until you know the costs. According to this benchmark Forbes article: The Real Costs of Owning a Mutual Fund, an average fund can have up to 2.5% – 3.25% of internal costs. Compounded over time can equal a lot of money. That is why, according to a Dalbar study, the average equity mutual fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 3.66% in 2015.  If you factor in buying and selling at the wrong times it should be no surprise the average retail investor underperforms the market by over 6%.
  2. Your typical stockbroker is not your friend but your fiduciary always works in your best interest. Most people do not know there are two different standards with which advisors do business.  This funny video will explain the difference in less than 30 seconds.  Afterwards, ask your advisor.
  3. Colleges act like businesses and there is a practice in the industry known as enrollment management that should change the way you think about planning your student’s education. With the average cost ranging from $24,385 for public school to $73,286 for elite colleges annually, a student taking longer than four years to graduate (and the average student loan debt per student of $37,0000) must focus more on SAVING ON THE COST of college than saving for college.  The college planning process has changed, and families need a new approach to recapture and lower their costs.  If you have two kids you very well could pay $150,000 to $250,000 for their education hoping they graduate in four years.  See if this new approach to college planning makes sense to you:  Know before you go, a new approach to college planning.
  4. Is your CPA a tax preparer or a tax planner? Think about it, most good CPAs are focused on saving you money today so they look good and will get your repeat business next year. How to tell if your CPA is a good one from this Forbes article: Red flags, how to know your CPA is working for you or not.
  5. Paying an advisor 1% or more to manage your money is a loser’s game. Most families don’t know all of the services an advisor should be providing and what is the true value.  According to this Vanguard study, a great advisor will help you potentially net about 3% in additional returns.  Now that is a deal, but so often most firms do not provide the additional services a family deserves.

Hopefully, you have found something in this post that will change your financial life so you can spend and enjoy more of your money!

If you want to learn more, please feel free to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss your situation.  Schedule Your Call.

Article written by STUART CANZERI
You can reach Stuart at (404) 477-1770 or canzeri@peachtreefg.com

STUART CANZERI

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Brighten Your Grandchildren’s Financial Future

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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may get more attention, but National Grandparents Day, observed on Sept. 10, has gained in popularity. If you’re a grandparent, you might expect to receive some nice cards, but if you want to make the day especially meaningful, you may want to consider giving some long-lasting financial gifts to your grandchildren.

What might come to mind first, of course, is helping your grandchildren pay for college. You can choose from several college savings vehicles, but you may be especially interested in a 529 savings plan. With a 529 plan, your earnings accumulate tax free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, books, and room and board. (Keep in mind that 529 plan distributions not used for qualified expenses may be subject to federal and state income taxes and a 10% IRS penalty on the earnings.) You may be eligible for a state income tax incentive for contributing to a 529 plan. Check with your tax advisor regarding these incentives, as well as all tax-related issues pertaining to 529 plans.

One benefit of using a 529 plan is contribution limits are quite generous. Plus, a 529 plan is flexible: If your grandchild decides against college, you can transfer the plan to another beneficiary.

Generally, a 529 plan owned by a grandparent won’t be reported as an asset on the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but withdrawals from the plan are treated as untaxed income to the beneficiary (i.e., your grandchild) — and that has a big impact on financial aid, a much bigger impact than if the plan was listed as a parental asset. Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, however, FAFSA now requires families to report income from two years before the school year starts, rather than income from the prior calendar year. Consequently, it might be beneficial, from a financial aid standpoint, for you, as a grandparent, to start paying for college expenses from a 529 plan in the year in which your grandchild becomes a junior. Contact a financial aid professional about the potential financial aid impact of any gifts you’re considering.

A 529 plan isn’t the only financial gift you could give to your grandchildren. You might also consider giving them shares of stock, possibly held in a custodial account, usually known as an UTMA or UGMA account. One possible drawback: You only control a custodial account until your grandchildren reach the age of majority, at which time they can use the money for whatever they want, whereas distributions from a 529 savings plan must be used for qualified higher education expenses.

Still, your grandchildren might be particularly interested in owning the stocks contained in the custodial account – most young people enjoy owning shares of companies that make familiar products. And to further interest your grandchildren in a lifetime of investing, you may want to show them how a particular stock you’ve owned for decades has grown over time. Naturally, you’ll also want to let them know that stocks can move up and down in the short term, and there are no guarantees of profits – but the long-term growth potential of stocks is still a compelling story.

You’d probably do whatever you could for your grandchildren – and with a smart financial gift, you can make a big difference in their lives.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Are You a “Hardworking” Investor?

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Next week, we observe Labor Day, a celebration of the American worker. You work hard your whole life with the hope that your efforts will ultimately allow you to achieve your financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But for that to happen, you may need to apply some of the lessons of the workplace to your efforts as an investor.

So, what are these lessons? Here are a few to consider:

  • Be consistent. The most successful workers are the ones who show up, day after day, and strive to overcome the inevitable obstacles that crop up. As an investor, you, too, need to be consistent in your habits – which means you should keep investing in all types of markets. If you take a “time out” every time the market drops, you might end up missing opportunities when the next rally begins.
  • Be flexible. When good workers see that something is not going well, they change what they’re doing. And when you invest, you also may need to make adjustments. If an investment has consistently underperformed, or if you have too many others very similar to it, or if it just doesn’t meet your needs anymore, you may be better off by selling it and using the proceeds to invest elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you should constantly be buying and selling — in fact, you’ll likely be better off by purchasing quality investments and holding them for the long term. But you need to be flexible enough to make the appropriate moves at the appropriate times.
  • Be informed. The best workers are those who regularly update their skills and acquire knowledge that helps them do their jobs better. As an investor, you should also keep learning – about the investment world in general and about new opportunities for you to explore. And you should always understand what you are investing in – and why. Even if you work with a financial professional, you need to inform yourself about every aspect of your investment portfolio – after all, it’s your money and your future.
  • Be farsighted. Good workers not only know what they’re doing – they also can visualize the desired outcome of each task. And, of course, people who are in charge of a particular endeavor, or who are responsible for the fortunes of a business, have a clear view of what they want to accomplish, even if the achievement of that goal is many years in the future. When you invest, you also need to see where you want to go. If you can constantly keep in mind your long-term goals – such as the type of retirement lifestyle you desire – you will likely find it easier to stick with an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your needs and risk tolerance. Conversely, if you lose sight of your destination, you might be more prone to taking short-term detours, which could work against you.

Labor Day reminds us to appreciate the skills and dedication of all workers – and as an investor, you can put these same attributes to good use.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Can You Save for College and Retirement?

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Few of us have unlimited financial resources — which means that almost all of us need to prioritize our financial goals. Consequently, you’ll have some decisions to make if you’d like to help pay for your children’s college educations someday while, at the same time, saving for your own retirement.

Your first step in addressing these objectives is to maintain realistic expectations. Consider the issue of paying for college. Right now, the average four-year cost (tuition, fees, room and board) is about $80,000 for in-state students at public universities and approximately $180,000 for private schools, according to the College Board. And these costs are likely to keep rising in the years ahead. Can you save this much for your kids’ education?

Instead of committing yourself to putting away this type of money, take a holistic approach to saving for your children’s higher education. After all, you probably won’t be the only one to help pay for college. Depending on your income and assets, your family might be eligible for some needs-based financial aid awarded by the college. Also, you should encourage your children to apply for as many scholarships as possible — but keep in mind that most scholarships don’t provide a “full ride.”  Here’s the bottom line: Don’t assume you will receive so much aid that you don’t need to save for college at all, but don’t burden yourself with the expectation that you need to pick up the full tab for your children’s schooling.

On a practical level, you may want to commit to putting a certain amount per month into a college savings vehicle, such as a 529 plan. You can generally invest in the 529 plan offered by most states, but in some cases, you may be eligible for a state income tax incentive. Also, all withdrawals from 529 plans will be free from federal income taxes, as long as the money is used for a qualified college or graduate school expense of the beneficiary you’ve named. (Withdrawals for expenses other than qualified education expenditures may be subject to federal and state taxes and a 10% penalty on the earnings.)

By starting your 529 plan early, when your children are young, you’ll give the investments within the plan more time to grow. Plus, you can make smaller contributions on a regular basis, rather than come up with big lump sums later on. And by following this approach, you may be in a better financial position for investing in your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. Obviously, it’s to your benefit to contribute as much as you can to these plans, which offer tax advantages and a wide range of investment options. If you’re investing in a 401(k) or similar employer-backed plan, try to boost your contributions every time your salary increases. At the very least, always put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

And once your children are through with college, you can discontinue saving in your 529 plan (although you may want to open another one in the future for your grandchildren) and devote more money to your retirement accounts.

It can certainly be challenging to save for education and retirement – but with discipline and perseverance, it can be done. So, give it the “old college try.”

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Stay Calm on the Investment “Roller Coaster”

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Unless you live near an amusement park that does a lot of advertising, you probably didn’t know that Aug. 16 is National Roller Coaster Day. Actual roller coasters provide people with thrills. But as an investor, how can you stay calm on the “roller coaster” of the financial markets?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Know what’s in front of you. If you’ve ever ridden a roller coaster in the dark, you may find it scarier than if you boarded it in daylight – after all, it can be unsettling not to know where you’re going. The same can be said about investing: If you have no idea what’s in front of you, you might find the journey unnerving – and if that happens, you could make panicky decisions, which are usually bad ones. So prepare for the inevitable market volatility – it’s a normal part of the investment landscape.
  • Buckle up. When you’re on a roller coaster, you need to buckle your seat belt or use a restraint. You want to have the excitement of the ride, but you certainly don’t want to take unnecessary risks. And you can enjoy some of the excitement of investing without incurring more risk than you are comfortable with, too. One way to lower your risk level is to diversify across a range of investments – stocks, bonds, government securities, and so on. That way, if a market downturn primarily affects just one type of investment, you’ll have some protection. However, although diversification can reduce the impact of volatility on your portfolio, it can’t protect against all losses or guarantee a profit.
  • Choose a strategy for the journey. Different people have different ways of handling a roller coaster ride. Some like to throw their hands up, enjoying the feeling of abandon, while others hold on tightly to the bar in front of them. When you invest, you also need a strategy that works for you, and the best one may be the simplest: Buy quality investments and hold them for the long term. How long is “long term”? It could be 10, 20, 30 years or more. Famed investor Warren Buffet says his favorite holding period is “forever.” If you’ve chosen a mix of quality investments appropriate for your risk tolerance, you may be able to hold them until either your goals change or the investments themselves undergo some transformation.
  • Stay for the whole “ride.” When you hop on a roller coaster, you’ve got no choice – you’re staying until the ride is over. As an investor, though, you can exit the investment world whenever you like. But if you take a “time out” from investing every time the market drops, you risk still being out of the market when it rallies – and the early stages of a rally are often when the biggest gains occur. Furthermore, if you keep investing during a “down” market, you’ll be buying shares when their price has dropped, which means your dollars can go further – and you’ll be following one of the basic rules of investing: “Buy low.”

You can’t take out all the twists and turns of the investment road, but by following the above suggestions, you can help make the ride less stressful – and possibly more rewarding.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Leave the Legacy You Desire?

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You may not see it in the greeting card section of your local drugstore, but August is “What Will Be Your Legacy Month.” So it’s a good time to think about the type of legacy you’d like to leave.

Of course, “legacy” can mean many things. In the broadest sense, your legacy is  how you will be remembered by your loved ones, friends and the communities to which you belong. On a practical level, establishing your legacy means providing your family and the charitable organizations you support with the resources you’d like them to have.

And that means you may need to take the following actions: create your plans, communicate your wishes and review and update your documents.

Let’s take a quick look at all these steps:

  • Create your plans. You will want to work with your legal professional, and possibly your tax and financial professionals, too, to draft the plans needed to fulfill your legacy wishes. These plans may include drafting a will, living trust, health care directive, power of attorney and other documents. Ideally, you want these plans to do more than just convey where you want your money to go – you want to impart, to the next generation, a sense of the effort that went into building the wealth they receive. Without such an appreciation, your heirs may be less than rigorous in retaining the tangible legacies you’ve left them.
  • Communicate your wishes. It’s important to communicate your legacy-related wishes to your family members as early as possible. By doing so, you can hopefully avoid unpleasant surprises and hurt feelings when it’s time for your estate to be settled – and you’ll also let people know what tasks, if any, they need to perform. For example, if you’re choosing a family member to be the executor of your estate, or if you’re giving someone power of attorney over your financial or health-related matters, they should be prepared.
  • Update your documents. During your life, you may well experience any number of changes – new marriage, new children, opening a family business, and so on. You need to make sure your legal documents and financial accounts reflect these changes. For example, if you’ve remarried, you may want to change the beneficiary designations on your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts – if left untouched, these designations may even supersede the instructions left in your will. And the directions in life chosen by your grown children may also dictate changes in your will or living trust. In any case, it’s a good idea to review all your legacy-related documents periodically, and update them as needed.

In addition to taking the above steps, you also need to protect the financial resources that go into your legacy. So, when you retire and begin taking funds from your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts, make sure your withdrawal rate is sufficient for your living expenses, but not so high that it eventually jeopardizes the amounts you planned to leave to your family or to your preferred charities. A financial professional can help you determine the withdrawal rate  appropriate for your situation.

With careful planning, and by making the right moves, you can create the type of legacy you desire – one that can benefit your loved ones far into the future.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Diversify Your Investments … But Consolidate Your Providers

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You have probably heard that diversification is a key to investment success. So, you might think that if diversifying your investments is a good idea, it might also be wise to diversify your investment providers – after all, aren’t two (or more) heads better than one?

Before we look at that issue, let’s consider the first half of the “diversification” question – namely, how does diversifying your investment portfolio help you?

Consider the two broadest categories of investments: stocks and bonds. Stock prices will move up and down in response to many different factors, including good or bad corporate earnings, corporate management issues, political developments and even natural disasters. Bond prices are not immune to these dynamics, but they are usually more strongly driven by changes in interest rates. To illustrate: If your existing bond pays 2 percent interest, and new bonds are being issued at 3 percent, the value of your bond will fall, because no one will pay you full price for it. (Of course, it may not matter to you anyway, especially if you planned to hold your bond until maturity, at which point you can expect to get your full investment back, providing the bond issuer doesn’t default.)

Here’s the key point: Stocks and bonds often move in different directions. If you only own U.S. stocks, you could take a big hit during a market downturn, but if you own domestic and international stocks, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit and other types of investments, your portfolio may be better protected against market volatility, and you’ll have more opportunities for positive results. (Keep in mind, though, that even a diversified portfolio can’t prevent all losses or guarantee profits.)

So, it clearly is a good idea to diversify your investment portfolio. Now, let’s move on to diversifying financial service providers. Why shouldn’t you have one IRA here and another one there, or enlist one advisor to help you with some types of investments and a different advisor assisting you with others?

Actually, some good reasons exist to consider consolidating all your investment accounts with one provider. For one thing, you’ll keep better track of your assets. Many people do misplace or forget about some of their savings and investments, but this will be far less likely to happen to you if you hold all your accounts in one place.

Also, if you have accounts with several different financial service providers, you might be incurring a lot of paperwork – and many fees. You can cut down on clutter and expense by consolidating your accounts.

But most important, by placing all your accounts with a single provider, possibly under the supervision of a single financial advisor, you will find it much easier to follow a single, unified investment strategy, based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.  You won’t get conflicting advice and you’ll receive clear guidance on important issues, such as the amounts you can afford to withdraw each year from your retirement accounts once you do retire.

Diversification and consolidation – one is good for building an investment portfolio, while the other can help you invest more efficiently and effectively. Put the two concepts together, and make them work for you.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Declare Your Financial Independence Day

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We’re getting close to the Fourth of July, when we celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in this country. The U.S. constitution grants us many of these liberties, but we have to earn others – such as our financial freedom. What steps can you take to achieve the financial independence you need to reach your long-term goals?

For starters, always work to build your resources. Contribute as much as you can afford to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.  If you don’t take advantage of this match, you are essentially leaving money on the table.

While how much you invest is an essential factor in gaining your financial freedom, how you invest your money is equally important. So make sure you have sufficient growth potential in all your accounts. While growth-oriented investments, such as stocks and stock-based vehicles, carry investment risk, you can help moderate this risk by also including other investments, such as bonds.

Another way to gain your financial independence is to liberate yourself from the shackles of debt. This isn’t always easy, of course – most of us have experienced times when our cash flow simply wasn’t sufficient to meet our expenses, so we had to take on some type of debt, either through a credit card or a loan. But the more you can control your debts, the more money you’ll have to save and invest for your future.

One way to manage your debt load is to build an emergency fund, containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, which you can use to pay unexpected costs such as a major car repair or a large medical bill. Ideally, you should keep this money in a liquid, low-risk account, so you can access the funds quickly and without penalty. Aside from possibly helping you control your debts, an emergency fund also may enable you to avoid dipping into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs.

Thus far, we’ve only discussed achieving your financial freedom through methods of saving and investing. But you also need to consider your protection needs, too. If you were to become ill or suffer a serious injury, and you could not work for a while, your financial security could be jeopardized. Your employer might offer you disability insurance as an employee benefit, but it may not be enough for your needs, so you might need to purchase some additional coverage on your own. And to help ensure your family’s financial security, you’ll also need sufficient life insurance.

You also might want to protect yourself from the catastrophic costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay. The average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $92,000, according to the 2016 Cost of Care Study issued by the insurance company Genworth. And Medicare generally covers only a small percentage of these expenses. You may want to consult with a financial professional to learn about ways you can protect yourself from the long-term care burden.

By following these suggestions, you can go a long way toward declaring your own financial independence. Consider taking action soon.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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