2016 IRA Deadlines Are Approaching

Here is what you need to know.

Financially, many of us associate April with taxes – but we should also associate April with important IRA deadlines.

*April 1 is the absolute deadline to take your first Required Mandatory Distribution (RMD) from your traditional IRA(s).

*April 18 is the deadline for making 2016 contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA.1

Let’s discuss the contribution deadline first, and then the deadline for that first RMD (which affects only those IRA owners who turned 70½ last year).

March Economic Update

February was a great month for stocks and a historic month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The blue chips closed at record highs for 12 straight trading sessions, a feat unmatched for 30 years. The S&P 500 gained 3.72% for the month. Readings on consumer confidence and purchasing manager indices remained impressive, and a key home price index hit a 30-month high. The latest Consumer Price Index showed mounting inflation pressure, and the Federal Reserve hinted at an oncoming rate move.1,2

The Advantages of Health Savings Accounts


Why do people open up Health Savings Accounts in conjunction with high-deductible health insurance plans? Well, here are some of the compelling reasons why younger, healthier employees decide to have HSAs.

#1: Tax-deductible contributions. These accounts are funded with pre-tax income – that is, you receive a current-year tax deduction for the amount of money you put into the plan. Your annual contribution limit to an HSA depends on your age and the type of high-deductible health plan (HDHP) you have in conjunction with the account. For 2017, limits are set at $3,400 (individual plan) and $6,750 (family plan). If you are 55 or older, those limits are nudged $1,000 higher.1,2

How to Measure the Value of Intelligent Financial Planning

How to Measure the Value of Intelligent Financial Planning

Many people want help making good financial choices and planning for the future, especially as they think about retirement. However, they wonder whether hiring an investment advisor is worth the money. After all, advisors charge fees or commissions … how much do they really help?

At Steward, we deliver wealth management, which is different from investment management. We focus on financial planning to help clients invest strategically, in a “smart” manner. This means taking a holistic approach and providing meaningful advice that considers the total return for our clients, not just returns from investments.

Thinking about how an investment affects taxes, what type of account to place it in and even how to take money out when needed can significantly affect the total amount of spendable income an investor receives. Considering all these factors, an investment with lower market returns may actually result in more spendable income when used in a smart way.

Recently, Morningstar, an independent research firm, studied the impact of smart wealth management.1 They identified factors other than just picking good investments that create real financial gain.

February Economic Update

Stocks advanced again in January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 20,000 for the first time, and the S&P 500 gained 1.79% on the month. As January ended, politics took center stage: investors focused first on the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s executive orders, then on earnings and economic indicators. As the forex market sensed that the new administration might prefer a weaker currency, the dollar stumbled. Growing haven demand sent prices of metals higher, while prices of energy futures fell. Consumer confidence plateaued at a high level, while home sales declined. While the latest consumer spending report was solid, the first estimate of fourth-quarter growth was unimpressive.1

A Portrait of Gen X Retirement Saving

How would you guess Gen X is faring when it comes to retirement saving? Americans born between 1965 and 1980 are approaching what should be their peak income years, and many of them have actively contributed to workplace retirement plans, IRAs, and investment accounts. At the same time, Gen X is becoming the new “sandwich generation” – spending time and money to care for kids and aging parents at once.  

4th Quarter Investment Letter

2016 should be labeled the year of surprises. The year started with concerns about an economic slowdown in China and higher interest rates leading to a recession. The stock market responded by falling, with the S&P down 12% at its low point. As we enter the new year, the economy seems to be accelerating with no recession in sight. The second big surprise happened in June with British voters electing to exit the European Union. Once again markets reacted sharply down followed by a quick recovery. The third and arguably biggest surprise was the election of Donald Trump. Markets again reacted, with S&P and Dow Jones futures down by their limit of 5% the night of the election. Once again the markets rebounded, with both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones recovering into positive territory by the next day’s close.

January Economic Update

While the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not top 20,000 in December, it did advance nicely, gaining 3.34%. The Federal Reserve took its interest rate target to 0.50-0.75%, adjusting the federal funds rate for just the second time in two years; around the world, other central banks held rates steady, and one even pledged additional easing. Oil prices jumped. Closely watched consumer confidence and purchasing manager indices rose, and unemployment declined. Home sales improved even as mortgage rates neared highs unseen since 2011. Wall Street and Main Street seemed optimistic about the economy’s future.1,2

What Happens to Bonds As Interest Rates Rise?

Are bond investors facing the possibility of major losses? Recently, bond yields have climbed. From November 1-23, the 2-year Treasury yield went from 0.83% to 1.12%, while the yield on the 10-year note rose from 1.83% to 2.36%.1

Quality bonds have a place in a portfolio, but many investors are moving their money elsewhere. They see a federal stimulus ahead in 2017, one that could potentially strengthen the economy and lead the Federal Reserve to continue to tighten interest rates. Assuming that happens and appetite for risk remains strong, what will happen to bonds and bond funds as rates begin to climb?1,2,3

December Economic Update

November was certainly newsworthy, presenting investors with three historic moments. First, Donald Trump won the presidency in a stunning upset that confounded political analysts. Next, the stock market rallied spectacularly after receiving that unanticipated news – the Dow Jones Industrial Average repeatedly closed at all-time peaks, advancing 5.41% on the month. Finally, OPEC nations agreed to reduce oil output for the first time since 2008, a development that sent crude prices soaring. On the whole, the latest U.S. economic indicators looked good. Existing home sales maintained their pace, even as mortgage rates climbed. A December interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve looked more and more likely.1,2

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