What’s the No. 1 goal for investors? Retirement, according to most polls. You may want to look at IRA’s (Individual Retirement Accounts) as an alternative to spending all your money, and even if you have a retirement savings plan at work! Let me explain.

If you don’t contribute to some retirement plan whether an IRA or another plan, how do you plan on paying for your time off down the road? Social Security? Your company’s traditional pension plan? (If they even have one any more. Many companies and organizations dumped those plans. Do you still have one?) See, for nearly everyone, those retirement income sources probably won’t give you near enough retirement income. Social Security pension plans were really not intended to be your only sources of cash in retirement. Plus, as we’ve discussed before, Social Security has mind-boggling funding problems, depending on your age and whom you work for. So…if you want a realistic chance to enjoy retirement…you’ll need to add in a bunch of personal savings! But where do you put these funds?

Well, if you’re in an employer-sponsored plan (e.g., 401(k), 403(b), 457) instead of an IRA, this type of plan might be the right choice if your company or organization matches your contributions to the plan. However, if that’s not the case, you might be better off in a Roth IRA (if you’re eligible), at least for a portion of your savings. (We can help you figure this out!) Generally, a Roth IRA is more flexible and might provide more after-tax retirement income than a company sponsored plan.

See, your adjusted growth income (AGI), determines whether you’re eligible for a deductible traditional IRA (which means lower taxes now and until you retire) or a Roth IRA (which means no deduction, but you never pay taxes on the investments in the account).

Finally, IRAs can be treated differently than other accounts. For example, assets parents hold in a regular account can reduce the financial aid award their children receive for college. However, most financial aid formulas ignore retirement savings. Also, IRA assets may be shielded from creditors. And IRAs also have estate-planning benefits, especially Roth IRAs.

As usual, with any financial issue like this, we’ll be glad to work with you on determining if any of these strategies will work for you and your family! Please keep in mind that this tip is designed to be of help for you, but is not to be relied upon as advice. It is merely a reminder that there are many choices you have available to you, and that planning is the only way to find the right answers for your situation!  As with any financial issues, make sure you get the right information before making a decision!  If you have any questions, we’ll be glad to help you!

Save all receipts from your holiday spending from now through the end of the year. Save receipts from everything! Gifts, grocery store, liquor store, church donations, decorations, gift wrapping, cards and postage, whatever you spend save the receipt. At the beginning of the year add them up and see how much money you spent in all the different areas. If you can see a way you can cut back great. If you can’t, split the total amount you spent into twelve monthly installments and put that money aside every month. When next November rolls around you won’t feel the pinch of holiday spending.

But chances are you will receive an e-mail requesting you to do just that.

It’s called a ‘spoof’ e-mail and no matter how official it looks, you can be sure of one thing: It was sent to you by a criminal who wants to steal your money or your identity.

These days it is easy for any criminal to copy the PayPal or Ebay logo and insert it into an e-mail.

So just because an e-mail looks and sounds official doesn’t mean it is.

How can you tell if an e-mail is really from PayPal?

The first way is content. PayPal, eBay, and your bank will never ask you in an e-mail to update any information, not your password, credit card, or even your address. They will never send you such an e-mail.

The second way is by how you are addressed in an e-mail. If the e-mail calls you “our valued customer” or something similar, and does not address you by your own name, chances are the e-mail is fake. But in the future criminal techniques might improve so that they will be able to do this. So watch out.

The third way to verify that no such e-mail is from PayPal, eBay, or your bank, is to go to your browser (Internet Explorer, for instance), open a new window, type in “PayPal” or “eBay” into the address field, and hit “go” or enter. Log into your account and see if the company is asking you for the information.

Remember, never click on a link from an e-mail. If the e-mail is fake, you will be taken to a fake site and anything you type in from there will be captured by a criminal.

 

millenials

It is no secret that Millennials, men and women ages 25-34, are very different from their parents and grandparents. But many of those differences stem from the fact that Millennials are facing challenges, specifically financial challenges, that previous generations didn’t have to face, such as crushing student loan debt.

At a time when the largest generation in history is starving for financial guidance, only 29% of them have sought out professional financial advice, according to an IQuantifi survey. Help empower your child to face his or her current and future financial situations by helping them find financial guidance at a young age. It can make an impact.

A 2016 study from the Stanford Center on Longevity found that Millennials are in the “most troubling” financial situation. For those with student debt, the current average is around $47,000. For many just starting their professional careers, making these monthly payments means indefinitely putting off buying a home or saving for retirement. The Stanford study found that less than one third of Millennials live in their own homes, a 20% decline since 2000. This inability to make investments for the future can potentially wreak havoc on your child’s assets later in life, not to mention their overall happiness.

But by taking action now, your child can find the right solutions to help them reach their goals and thrive in today’s world. Please call my office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment with your child. Together, we can make sure your child is on the right financial path.

After months of one of the most highly-contested presidential elections in our country’s history, a president-elect has been named and we can now begin to process what changes may be coming our way.

Some of those changes may be financial. As we continue to learn the specifics regarding the Trump administration’s fiscal policy, we know the anticipated broad strokes of it will include lower tax rates, a targeted fiscal stimulus, and the deregulation of business. These actions, some financial experts say, have a solid chance of positively impacting our economy.

Other positive changes that might be on the horizon include:

  • New growth opportunities. From the steepening of the U.S. Treasury yield curve to the positive performance of commodities, the new policies may offer new revenue streams to clients.
  • Market effects. Historically, the S&P 500 index has produced a positive total return in presidential election years.
  • Tax reform. To help stimulate the economy, new tax strategies might ensure significant cuts in taxes, particularly for higher-earning Americans.

As a valued client, please know that our commitment to your financial success, and that of your family, supersedes the changing tides of politics. As you save and invest for your goals, remember that market disruptions are not the norm, but the exception. Please call our office at 814-536-1040 if you have concerns or questions about how things are going with your investments.

Imagine working hard for over 30 years to prepare for your future, only to have it stolen away in an instant. Sadly, this is a reality for one-in-five older Americans who have experienced financial exploitation and lost an average of $120,303, according to the AARP Banksafe Initiative.

Fortunately, in most cases, financial abuse can be avoidable. By better educating yourself and your loved ones of the risks, you can help curb the tragic practice.

There are three primary types of financial abuse:

  • Exploitation: When businesses, individuals, or charities use pressure tactics or misleading language to force older adults to make financial mistakes.
  • Fraud: When criminals commit identity theft or con older adults into spending money or sharing personal information.
  • Trust abuse: When family, friends, or caregivers take advantage of a trusted relationship to get money or assets from an older adult.

Those most at risk include individuals who are dependent on others for personal needs, experience cognitive impairments, allow family or friends to handle financial needs, or live in a care-based community like a nursing home.

As a valued client, we are dedicated to helping you protect your financial achievements and those of your friends and family. Call our office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment with an older loved one to discuss financial exploitation and strategize ways to keep him or her safe.

Johnstown, Pa. – Franklin Banfer attended a two-day national conference in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania with Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc., a broker/dealer based in Syracuse, NY. Attendees heard from top financial company experts on deepening client relationships, understanding the next generation of investors: millennials, and current debates happening in Washington that could affect clients’ investing and portfolio decisions.

Mr. Banfer attended a variety of seminars focusing on navigating financial markets during periods of market swings, recognizing the unique needs of clients following major life events, and how cutting edge technologies can be applied so that assets can be managed with the utmost effectiveness and efficiency. [He/She] met with leading financial experts who shared insights regarding current and future market conditions.

Franklin has been serving clients for 35 years.

 About Cadaret, Grant

Cadaret, Grant, a privately owned broker/dealer headquartered in Syracuse, New York, supports nearly 900 registered representatives in over 400 branch offices nationwide.  Founded in 1985, the company provides superior service, advanced technology, effective marketing tools, and a supportive business environment for financial advisors.  For more information about Cadaret, Grant, visit www.cadaretgrant.com or contact Megan Grant at 315.471.2191.

IRA and Retirement Plan Limits for 2017

             2017-sign

IRA contribution limits

The maximum amount you can contribute to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA in 2017 is $5,500 (or 100% of your earned income, if less), unchanged from 2016. The maximum catch-up contribution for those age 50 or older remains at $1,000. (You can contribute to both a traditional and Roth IRA in 2017, but your total contributions can’t exceed these annual limits.)

 

Traditional IRA deduction limits for 2017

The income limits for determining the deductibility of traditional IRA contributions in 2017 have increased. If your filing status is single or head of household, you can fully deduct your IRA contribution up to $5,500 in 2017 if your MAGI is $62,000 or less (up from $61,000 in 2016). If you’re married and filing a joint return, you can fully deduct up to $5,500 in 2017 if your MAGI is $99,000 or less (up from $98,000 in 2016). And if you’re not covered by an employer plan but your spouse is, and you                file a joint return, you can fully deduct up to $5,500 in 2017 if your MAGI is $186,000 or less (up from $184,000 in 2016).

 

If your 2017 federal income tax filing status is: Your IRA deduction is limited if your MAGI is between: Your deduction is eliminated if your MAGI is:
Single or head of household $62,000 and $72,000 $72,000 or more
Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)* $99,000 and $119,000 (combined) $119,000 or more (combined)
Married filing separately $0 and $10,000 $10,000 or more

*If you’re not covered by an employer plan but your spouse is, your deduction is limited if your MAGI is $186,000 to $196,000, and eliminated if your MAGI exceeds $196,000.

 

Roth IRA contribution limits for 2017

The income limits for determining how much you can contribute to a Roth IRA have also increased for 2017. If your filing status is single or head of household, you can contribute the full $5,500 to a Roth IRA in 2017 if your MAGI is $118,000 or less (up from $117,000 in 2016). And if you’re married and filing a joint return, you can make a full contribution in 2017 if your MAGI is $186,000 or less (up from $184,000 in 2016). (Again, contributions can’t exceed 100% of your earned income.)

 

If your 2017 federal income tax filing status is: Your Roth IRA contribution is limited if your MAGI is: You cannot contribute to a Roth IRA if your MAGI is:
Single or head of household More than $118,000 but less than $133,000 $133,000 or more
Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) More than $186,000 but less than $196,000 (combined) $196,000 or more (combined)
Married filing separately More than $0 but less than $10,000 $10,000 or more

Employer retirement plans

              

Most of the significant employer retirement plan limits for 2017 remain unchanged from 2016. The maximum amount you can contribute (your “elective                            deferrals”) to a 401(k) plan in 2017 is $18,000. This limit also applies to 403(b), 457(b), and SAR-SEP plans, as well as the Federal Thrift Plan. If you’re age 50 or older,  you can also make catch-up contributions of up to $6,000 to these plans in 2017. [Special catch-up limits apply to certain participants in 403(b) and 457(b) plans.]

If you participate in more than one retirement plan, your total elective deferrals can’t exceed the annual limit ($18,000 in 2017 plus any applicable catch-up contribution). Deferrals to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, SIMPLE plans, and SAR-SEPs are included in this aggregate limit, but deferrals to Section 457(b) plans are not. For example, if you participate in both a 403(b) plan and a 457(b) plan, you can defer the full dollar limit to each plan—a total of $36,000 in 2017 (plus any catch-up contributions).

The amount you can contribute to a SIMPLE IRA or SIMPLE 401(k) plan in 2017 is $12,500, and the catch-up limit for those age 50 or older remains at $3,000.

 

Plan type: Annual dollar limit: Catch-up limit:
401(k), 403(b), governmental 457(b), SAR-SEP, Federal Thrift Plan $18,000 $6,000
SIMPLE plans $12,500 $3,000

Note: Contributions can’t exceed 100% of your income.

The maximum amount that can be allocated to your account in a defined contribution plan [for example, a 401(k) plan or profit-sharing plan] in 2017 is $54,000, up from $53,000 in 2016, plus age 50 catch-up contributions. (This includes both your contributions and your employer’s contributions. Special rules apply if your employer ponsors more than one retirement plan.)

Finally, the maximum amount of compensation that can be taken into account in determining benefits for most plans in 2017 is $270,000 (up from $265,000 in 2016), and the dollar threshold for determining highly compensated employees (when 2017 is the look-back year) is $120,000, unchanged from 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing an executor for your estate can be an emotional decision to make. Most people we see choose a family member as Executor and this is not necessarily the best decision. Just because they are family doesn’t mean they have the knowledge to handle the confusing paperwork needed to settle an estate. An Executor should have enough financial experience to be comfortable dealing with financial institutions, lawyers and realtors. Location should also be a factor in making your decision. An executor will have to be able to be available to attend meetings and to sign papers with family members and banks, brokerage firms, etc. If there is a house to be sold there will be liquidation of the deceased’s belongings as well as the sale of the house itself.

This whole process can take several months and incur considerable expenses to the Executor. Many experts recommend that the Executor be someone outside of the family. A Financial Planner, Attorney, someone who can be hired and held accountable. These professional may usually charge a fee approximately 1.5% to 3% of the value of the estate. Some states have rules for how and what an Executor is paid. All Executor fees are deducted from the taxable value of the estate.

It’s an important decision to make, but once you have all the important factors available to you your decision should be reached with confidence and ease. Please let us know how we can help you in reaching your decision.

Between the rising costs of higher education and the increasing need for a personally-funded retirement plan down the road, today’s children and teens are facing unique financial issues that you or your parents never needed to consider.

To help make sure your children or grandchildren are best prepared for success in today’s changing economy, helping them gain an early understanding of finances can be crucial. Actively getting children of all ages involved with interactive educational programs through trusted financial partners can help reinforce the importance of the information and go a long way toward helping them develop responsible habits.

Experts say children who begin learning basic finances as early as age three can:
 Gain an appreciation for the value of money.
 Create goals-based savings strategies.
 Learn the pitfalls of impulse buying.
 Understand how to create and stick to a budget.

By honing these essential skills at a young age, your loved ones can establish long-lasting and healthy attitudes toward money management that can help carry them through their futures.

If you’d like to get your child or grandchild started on the road to financial success, please call our office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment. Together, we can discuss which types of educational programs and activities are best for them.