The Classic Story of a Spender and a Saver

The untypical financial planning blog! Yes, my wife came up with the title as I get teased a bit for being a little frugal. However, we do try to find some humor in it. Hopefully some of these random thoughts will help you in your financial journey, So enjoy! - James Daniel, CFP®, CFA, CMT, EA Now for the DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended as financial advice. We encourage you to consult with your personal advisor before acting on anything you read here.

Last minute tax deductions for 2016

Written on December 15th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

You’ve got 2 weeks remaining in 2016, here is a quick checklist of ways to reduce your taxes:

  • max out your 401k ($18,000 + $6000 if over age 50)
  • max our your HSA if you have a High Deductible Health Plan ($6750 for families / $3350 for singles)
  • do you have any investment losses in a taxable account?  Sell now and deduct up to $3000

And don’t forget about Itemized Deductions on your Schedule A form, plan ahead and get more deductions:

  • Medical/Dental Expenses:  keep track of your out of pocket expenses.  If over 10% of Adj Gross Income you can deduct.
    • Long Term Care premiums can be included in this
  • State Tax or Sales Tax (you choose which one to deduct)
  • Personal Property Tax
  • Real Estate Tax
  • Mortgage Interest
  • Mortgage Insurance (PMI – deductible for some income levels)
  • Mortgage Points/Loan Orig fees (basically prepaid mortgage interest can be deductible)
  • CHARITABLE – big one you can do in the next two weeks
    • Cash donations to qualified charities are deductible (keep records and written verification from charity)
    • Non Cash Donations (donating household items to your favorite charity thrift store or qualified charitable institution)
      • < $250 just need to record name of organization and description/value of property
      • $250 to $500 need above + receipt from organization
      • $500 to $5000 have to list more details with tax return including form 8283, still very easy
      • >$5000 you will need to have an appraisal of the property.
  • Misc Itemized Deductions (may or may not be subject to 2% AGI threshold) :
    • Investment expenses and fees + some legal expenses
    • unreimbursed employee expenses
    • Job search expenses
    • Job related education
    • work uniforms (some restrictions here)

10 year yields

Written on December 14th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

The interest rates on 10 year US treasury bonds have really shot up this fall.  We were at 1.4% in July and now at 2.4%, quite a large jump and a level not seen since 2015.  By comparison other developed countries like Germany (blue line) and Japan (red line) are much less.  The spread has widened, will the others play catchup or will we see a retreat in US yields soon?

maybe time for biotechs?

Written on December 9th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

Biotechs are starting to look very interesting here…….

normally don’t trash competitors but……..

Written on December 7th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

I think this says enough about the financial services industry:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/merrill-lynch-brokers-must-refer-2-customers-or-face-pay-cut-2016-12-07?mod=mw_share_twitter

appealing medicare premium surcharge

Written on December 6th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

To follow up on the previous video post: If you would like to appeal the “income surcharge” attached to your medicare part b premium, here is the form https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-44.pdf

Retirement Minute Episode 15: Social Security & Medicare 2017 increases

Written on November 29th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

Medicare increases for 2017

Written on November 15th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

Forbes has a good summary on the medicare premium increases for 2017:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2016/11/14/medicare-part-b-premiums-will-top-10000-a-year-for-high-income-senior-couples-in-2017/#4011937940b3

How to see everything Google knows about you

Written on November 8th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

An interesting post from Clark Howard’s website on Google’s My Activity page:  http://www.clark.com/google-my-activity-data-dashboard-delete?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=5821747304d3014e53b2b514&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

stepping back from high yield for the time being

Written on November 1st, 2016 by Jamesno shouts

Not sure where high yield bonds are heading (junk bonds) but we’ve had a nice run this year and it was time to take profit.  I can’t get a good read on High Yield here, so with it falling out of this wedge I took clients out on Friday morning.

Personal Finance FYI: the 401k series – the basics of Coke’s 401k plan

Written on October 25th, 2016 by Jamesno shouts