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2014 Year in Review

Overview The United States emerged from 2014 as the best house on a troubled block. Civil war in Ukraine, a slowing Chinese economy, a stagnant Europe worried about potential deflation, a new recession in Japan, the threat of a new Russian economic meltdown triggered by plummeting oil prices--it all made an improving situation at home look even brighter by comparison. Even apart from the troubles overseas, the United States by almost any measure was stronger than it's been in years. The labor and housing markets improved, corporate profits were solid, Congress managed to avert another government shutdown, and the Ebola threat had little impact domestically. All in all, it was a Goldilocks economy: not too hot, which could have brought...

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Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income

common factors retirement incomeWhen it comes to planning for your retirement income, it's easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you'll have available to spend. If you don't consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be able to enjoy the retirement you envision. Investment risk Different types of investments carry with them different risks. Sound retirement income planning involves understanding these risks and how they can influence your available income in retirement. Investment or market risk is the risk that fluctuations in the securities market may result in the reduction and/or depletion of the value of your retirement...

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Financial Myths, Mistakes, and Misunderstandings

confused178618100 sqThroughout our financial lives, we may be influenced by myths, mistakes, and misunderstandings (MMMs). Here are just a few. In the beginning . . . "I don't invest because I don't know much about it."It's time to learn, because a basic understanding of investing concepts can help you make more informed financial decisions. "Wow, they'll give me that much credit! I must be able to handle it." Just because the credit-card company or bank extends a large amount of credit to you, it doesn't mean you should use all of it. The more you borrow, the larger the monthly payments, and before you know it, you've bitten off more than you can chew. Figure out how much you'll owe based on the amount you borrow and determine if it will fit within your...

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Test Your Financial Knowledge

test your knowledgeWorking with a trusted financial professional is one of the best ways to help improve your overall financial situation, but it's not the only thing you can do. Educating yourself about personal finance concepts can help you better understand your advisor's recommendations, and result in more productive and potentially more prosperous financial planning discussions. Take this brief quiz to see how well you understand a few of the basics. Questions 1. How much should you set aside in liquid, low-risk savings in case of emergencies? a. One to three months' worth of expenses b. Three to six months' worth of expenses c. Six to twelve months' worth of expenses d. It depends 2. Diversification can eliminate risk from your portfolio....

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Retirement Myths and Realities

ngb ssknow0514 02We all have some preconceived notions about what retirement will be like. But how do those notions compare with the reality of retirement? Here are four common retirement myths to consider. 1. My retirement won't last that long The good news is that we're living longer lives. The bad news is that this generally translates into a longer period of time that you'll need your retirement income to last. Life expectancy for individuals who reach age 65 has been steadily increasing. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for older individuals improved mainly in the latter half of the 20th century, due largely to advances in medicine, better access to health care, and healthier lifestyles. Someone reaching age 65...

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