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Real Estate Investment Trusts

real estateWhat is it? A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that buys, develops, manages, and/or sells real estate such as skyscrapers, shopping malls, apartment complexes, office buildings, or housing developments. Rather than investing directly, investors in REITs put their money into a professionally managed portfolio of real estate. REITs trade on the major exchanges, just like stocks. REITs make money from rental income, profits from the sale of the property, and other services provided to tenants. REITs also receive special tax considerations; they do not pay taxes as long as they pay out at least 90 percent of their net income to their investors. Thus, successful REITs can offer investors high yields, current income, and...

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Factors Contributing to Recent Market Volatility

globeThe Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 2013 at a new all-time record, and the S&P 500 reached its all-time closing high two weeks later. The Federal Reserve is confident enough that in December it announced it would begin reducing the bond purchases that have helped fuel economic recovery. But fast-forward to the end of January and things look a little different. The Dow lost 5.6% during the month--its worst January since 2009--and the S&P 500 went from an all-time high to a monthly loss in just over two weeks. What in the world has been going on? As it turns out, "what in the world" is exactly the right phrase. The recent turmoil demonstrates just how tightly linked global markets are now. The shift in Fed policy coupled with internal...

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Business Owners: Don't Neglect Your Own Retirement Plan

Business Owners: Don't Neglect Your Own Retirement Plan If you're like many small business owners, you pour your heart, soul, and nearly all your money into your business. When it comes to retirement planning, your strategy might be crossing your fingers and hoping your business will provide the nest egg you'll need to live comfortably. But relying on a business to fund retirement can be a very risky proposition. What if you become ill and have to sell it early? Or what if your business experiences setbacks just before your planned retirement date? Rather than counting on your business to define your retirement lifestyle, consider managing your risk now by investing in a tax-advantaged retirement account. Employer-sponsored retirement...

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Year End Review

It's December 31. Do You Know Where Your Money Is? December and January are the perfect months to look back at what you earned, saved, and spent during the past year, as W-2s, account statements, and other year-end financial summaries roll in. So before Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow to predict when spring is coming, take some time to get your financial house in order. How much have you saved? Whether you simply resolved last year to save more or you set a specific financial goal (for example, saving 15% of your income for retirement), it's time to find out how you did. Start by taking a look at your account balances. How much did you save for college or retirement? Were you able to increase your emergency fund? If you...

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