Category Archives: Investment Planning

Not all CDs are the same…

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante: When investing in a Certificate of Deposit (CD), you may have more options than you think.  You can purchase a CD at a local bank or you can purchase CDs in your investment accounts (such as a taxable account, IRA or Roth IRA, etc.).  These are typically known as Brokered CDs.  Even though the CDs you get from the bank and the CDs in your investment accounts are called Certificates of Deposit, you should know that there are differences.  In either case, we would recommend that the CDs you invest in are fully covered by FDIC insurance.  If you would like to learn more about FDIC insurance coverage, feel free to ask us or you can go online to www.fdic.gov.

Purchasing CDs from your local bank: If you were to purchase a CD from a local bank that is FDIC insured, you would receive interest and would get your principal investment at maturity. If you receive regular statements, the value of your CD would most likely never change because it is not tradeable.  If for some reason you wanted access to your funds prior to maturity, you would most likely be subject to a penalty, such as 90 days’ worth of interest (but this should be verified individually). Other factors to consider are that local banks can offer “teaser rates” (rates higher than the market) for CDs to attract deposits, but those rates may not be available after your CD matures.  Unless you want to consistently move your money from institution to institution, using time and effort, you will be subject to the rates being offered only by your bank.

Continue reading Not all CDs are the same…

5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante:  What 5 things should you be thinking about at the end of the year when it comes to your finances?

1. Review your personal budget and commit to a savings plan for 2017

a. On January 1, write down the balance in your checking account. Do this on the first of the month for the next three months. After you incorporate your income for the period, as well as take note of any cash withdrawals from other accounts, you can get a general sense of what your monthly spending is.

b. We work directly with our clients at Baron to help understand how their budget and all of their financial assets work together.  If you would like a budget sheet (either electronic or hard-copy), let us know. 

2. Review your long-term investment strategy

a. Is the long-term strategy in place for you still right for your specific circumstance? Are you going to be making any large purchases coming up in the New Year? Are you thinking about revisiting your risk tolerance – becoming more aggressive or conservative?

b. At Baron, we use a customized approach to design client portfolios.  We not only consider potential return, but also risk, as well as how the investments complement each other.  Having a long-term investment strategy is critical for investing success and provides a guide for when markets act unexpectedly or make a major directional move.

Continue reading 5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End

Are Appreciated Investments a Part of Your Philanthropic Strategy?

A 45-second read by the Baron Team: Did you know that your appreciated investments could be among the best items to give to your favorite charity to get maximum tax benefits? Donating an appreciated investment instead of cash can qualify you for two tax breaks; you will get a charitable deduction for the current value of the investment and you will avoid having to pay capital gains taxes on the increased value of the investments.

So the next time you plan on donating cash or checks to an organization, you may want to consider some other options:

1) Does the charity of your choice have the resources or capabilities to accept gifts of appreciated investments directly?

 2) For Federal Income Taxes, if you are older than 70 ½, consider a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).

A QCD “is generally a nontaxable distribution made directly by the trustee of your IRA (other than a SEP or SIMPLE IRA) to an organization eligible to receive tax deductible contributions” (IRS pub. 590b). For more information on QCD’s, refer to page 13 of IRS Publication 590b.

Any further questions regarding charitable donations, feel free to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

Where is the Best Place to Put My Emergency Funds? How Much is Enough?

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante:  You want to put your emergency funds in an account where the funds are easily accessible and not exposed to risk.  Examples include traditional bank accounts that carry FDIC insurance (savings, checking, etc.).  The current FDIC insurance limit is $250,000 (as of October 2016), so you should structure your accounts appropriately to ensure your emergency funds are protected.  You don’t want your emergency funds exposed to volatility, because it is possible you may need access to the funds when markets are experiencing volatility. If you put emergency funds in a risk asset (an investment that can change in value, such as a stock), it could wind-up causing you two financial problems, as opposed to having one financial solution.

How much you put in your emergency fund really depends on your specific situation, the stability of your job, your monthly budget and the consideration of all financial resources available. Typically, you want to put 6 to12 months of your salary away. If you are in a risky job or the majority of your income is from commissions or bonuses, the emergency fund may need to be more. Please contact us at Baron if you would like help in determining an appropriate amount for an emergency fund that would be best for your specific circumstance.

Medicare & Retirement Planning Webinar

Baron Financial Group’s Investment Committee provides an educational webinar on financial planning and investment management.  Medicare Consultant and guest presenter Mary Jean Cullen (MedicareAssist, LLC) discusses how Medicare works.  It is important to keep in mind that annual enrollment is open now through December 7th.

This presentation was first held at the September 13, 2016 Wine & Wealth event for our clients.

The webinar includes the following topics:

  • Beware of Market Doomsayers (0:00 -7:28) – Victor Cannillo
  • Asset Allocation and Diversification (7:30-15:53)   – Anthony Benante
  • Customized Financial Planning  (15:56-19:12) –  Nicholas Scheibner
  • What Role Does Life Expectancy Play in Retirement Planning? (19:13-23:15) – James Shagawat
  • Choosing A Medicare Plan: Learn What You Need To Know Prior and During Your Medicare Years    (23:30-51:44)  – Mary Jeanne Cullen

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

Should the Election Affect your Investment Strategy?

The answer is “no,” as long as you have a long-term globally-diversified
strategy

 

A 45-second read by Victor Cannillo: The simple truth is nobody knows what will happen when the election is over. No matter which candidate is elected President, historically, stocks will continue to rise and fall as they always have. This election will most likely be no different.

Right now, you might be hearing a lot of market commentary like “If Trump Wins…/If Clinton Wins…” We can be swayed to believe that because a certain president is elected, we should be making changes to our investment strategies and portfolios.

The number one thing to remember – always keep emotions out of investment decisions.

Keep in mind that we are not electing a king, but rather someone who will be in office at most 8 years, with a Congress and Senate that will account for checks and balances.

There might be some short-term volatility, but always remember that you are investing for the long-term, not just for the 4 to 8 years of a presidential term.  

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

What is the Best IRA for a Young Investor?

 A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  Before deciding which kind of IRA to open, the first thing you would want to do is check with your employer about 401(k) offerings. If your employer provides any company match into a 401(k) you will want to contribute to that account before you start an IRA. That way, you are able to take advantage of the “Free Money” provided by your employer. A Roth IRA is usually best for someone who is in a lower tax-bracket.  The idea is that you want to pay taxes in the lowest bracket possible.  So if you are making a lower income than you may in the future, you would want to pay taxes now, using a Roth.

Also, if you expect to be making less income now than in the future, a Roth is a good way to “prepay” taxes. You can’t avoid paying taxes, and the decision between a Roth and a Traditional IRA is, “pay taxes now or pay taxes in retirement?” Since a Roth provides tax-free withdrawals in retirement, the account provides for “tax diversification” that compliments your 401(k), traditional IRA, and taxable brokerage accounts.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

Class of 2016: It Isn’t Too Early to Start Thinking about Your Retirement

A 60-second read by James Shagawat:  Congratulations 2016 College graduates! Throw that mortarboard as high in the air as you can and before it circles back down to earth, start thinking about saving for your retirement. You are most likely going to be responsible for setting yourself up for a successful retirement, so your best bet is to invest early and often.

Invest in yourself first. Most people think investing is the key to wealth, but while certainly important, you have to have some money first to invest. So as soon as you begin your first job out of school, start saving a minimum of 10% of your annual income for retirement. This will ensure that you invest in yourself first.  You should plan on saving this much or more for the rest of your working career.

Continue reading Class of 2016: It Isn’t Too Early to Start Thinking about Your Retirement

Does Your Advisor Offer Institutional Pricing?

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: Baron Financial Group is an institutional investor.  As an independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) with no allegiance to any investment company, we seek the most attractively-priced investments for our clients. We look at every situation, and when we have the opportunity to invest in institutionally-priced mutual funds that make sense for our clients, we take advantage of the opportunity. The result of this is a direct benefit to the clients’ bottom line. And here’s why:

In the world of mutual funds (which are pools of assets such as stocks and/or bonds), there can be different pricing for the same underlying investments.  For simplification, you could think about these different pricing levels as institutional and retail. Whether you buy institutional class shares or retail-priced shares from a mutual fund, the investment itself will be exactly the same. The major difference between the two is their fees and this can directly impact investor performance. For example, retail-priced shares can have higher expense ratios, while institutional class shares have ongoing lower expense ratios (an expense ratio is a measurement of what an investment company charges to run a mutual fund). Retail customers may experience the effects of higher expense ratios because they typically have lower purchasing power.  Retail investors may also be subjected to upfront fees (fees when you purchase shares) as well as back-end fees (fees when you decide to sell your shares). There can also be yearly marketing fees called “12b-1” fees that you might have to pay. Finally, there may be a minimum to what you have to buy.

Institutional class shares, on the other hand, tend to offer 25 to 50 basis points (a basis point is 1/100th of 1%) of pricing advantage because of their lower fees. There are no initial upfront percentage fees (note that there can be a small nominal transactional fee to purchase these funds) and no maximum sales fees are allowed. With lower expense ratios, more of your money is actually being invested. The result of this can be better performance and better returns for longer periods.  Ask an advisor at Baron Financial Group to find out if institutional class mutual funds are right for you.