The Isanti County News http://isanticountynews.com The Isanti County News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for the cities of Cambridge, Isanti, and Braham, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Fri, 29 May 2015 15:26:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Anoka shuts down Bluejackets in 7AAA quarters http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/29/anoka-shuts-down-bluejackets-in-7aaa-quarters/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/29/anoka-shuts-down-bluejackets-in-7aaa-quarters/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 15:26:18 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?p=121990 Bluejacket senior leader Connor Hanson reached base his first two times against Anoka, stealing second to get into scoring position in the third inning.  Photo by Greg Hunt

Bluejacket senior leader Connor Hanson reached base his first two times against Anoka, stealing second to get into scoring position in the third inning. Photo by Greg Hunt

Anoka starter Alexander Glick threw seven shutout innings, striking out five, to lead the No. 2 seed Tornadoes to a 7-0 win over visiting Cambridge-Isanti May 28 in the Section 7AAA quarterfinals. The Bluejackets had runners in scoring position in the first three innings, but Glick stepped up to the challenge by not giving up the big hit.

C-I’s Isaiah Filley pitched three strong innings, no allowing a hit until an infield single with one out in the fourth. The Tornadoes scored two in that inning and squeezed in another run off Filley in the fifth. They then tacked on four runs off relievers Mitchell Ziebarth and Luke Johnson for breathing room in the sixth.

In the double-elimination format, Cambridge-Isanti (9-13) next travels to Forest Lake at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 30. A win keeps them alive for the 2 p.m. game at Chisago Lakes Saturday afternoon.

More 7AAA quarterfinal scores from May 28:  No. 1 seed St. Francis 7, No. 8 Princeton 1 • No. 5 Chisago Lakes 7, No. 4 Elk River 1 • No. 3 Grand Rapids 9, No. 6 Forest Lake 8.

 

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Why Volatility Isn’t So Bad http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/29/why-volatility-isnt-so-bad/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/29/why-volatility-isnt-so-bad/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 13:00:03 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?guid=6873344c32fa4bed49c4c97e8cba935f Nervous retirees often worry that they might lose everything in a volatile market. Yes, if you only own one stock, you could lose it all. But if your portfolio is diversified, the majority of it remains stable like the water beneath the waves.

Market volatility is not as scary as you might think. First of all, younger retirees may have a higher percentage of equity (stocks) in their retirement income portfolio, but as they age, it shallows out. The volatile part of the portfolio from stocks decreases, while the more stable part of the portfolio from bonds increases.

Thus the visual may look like the above picture of the ocean bottom where the blue represents stock index funds and the black represents short-term bond index funds.

Also, not all of one’s portfolio is subject to volatility. Let me explain using ocean waves to represent a portfolio.

The ocean is your properly structured portfolio. In this metaphor, deep water represents younger retirees who have more time remaining before they reach shore.

Take a closer look at the exposure to volatility, the wave action. Looking at just the surface, investors might see a lot of turbulence. Yet below the wave height line, much of the water is undisturbed. The ups and downs of the markets don’t affect most of the portfolio value.

What is the wave height of a portfolio? In other words, how far down may a portfolio value drop? We can calculate the possible loss on a portfolio with its standard deviation, a measurement of historical volatility.

As a statistical rule, future returns fall within one standard deviation 68% of the time, two deviations 95% of the time and three deviations 99.7% of the time. Here is an example:

A portfolio has $100,000 in value (75% short-term bonds, 25% stocks) and a 6.29% standard deviation.

Most of the time (more precisely, 68% of the time), the portfolio likely will go up 6.29%, down 6.29% or any point in between. It means at least $93,710 ($100,000 minus 6.29% of $100,000) of the portfolio is unaffected. And 95% of the time, $87,420 of the portfolio value is intact. The waves might go down three standard deviations, 18.87%; still, $81,130 of the portfolio is fine.

Most of the time, the effect of market storms is shallow, although there are times when they stir deeper, the financial crisis of 2008, for example.

Retirees can survive market volatility because not the entire portfolio is at risk of loss during a down market, that is, if it is properly diversified.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Adviser (California) in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Financial Planning. http://blog.betterfinancialeducation.com/.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Nervous retirees often worry that they might lose everything in a volatile market. Yes, if you only own one stock, you could lose it all. But if your portfolio is diversified, the majority of it remains stable like the water beneath the waves.

Market volatility is not as scary as you might think. First of all, younger retirees may have a higher percentage of equity (stocks) in their retirement income portfolio, but as they age, it shallows out. The volatile part of the portfolio from stocks decreases, while the more stable part of the portfolio from bonds increases.

Thus the visual may look like the above picture of the ocean bottom where the blue represents stock index funds and the black represents short-term bond index funds.

Also, not all of one’s portfolio is subject to volatility. Let me explain using ocean waves to represent a portfolio.

The ocean is your properly structured portfolio. In this metaphor, deep water represents younger retirees who have more time remaining before they reach shore.

Take a closer look at the exposure to volatility, the wave action. Looking at just the surface, investors might see a lot of turbulence. Yet below the wave height line, much of the water is undisturbed. The ups and downs of the markets don’t affect most of the portfolio value.

What is the wave height of a portfolio? In other words, how far down may a portfolio value drop? We can calculate the possible loss on a portfolio with its standard deviation, a measurement of historical volatility.

As a statistical rule, future returns fall within one standard deviation 68% of the time, two deviations 95% of the time and three deviations 99.7% of the time. Here is an example:

A portfolio has $100,000 in value (75% short-term bonds, 25% stocks) and a 6.29% standard deviation.

Most of the time (more precisely, 68% of the time), the portfolio likely will go up 6.29%, down 6.29% or any point in between. It means at least $93,710 ($100,000 minus 6.29% of $100,000) of the portfolio is unaffected. And 95% of the time, $87,420 of the portfolio value is intact. The waves might go down three standard deviations, 18.87%; still, $81,130 of the portfolio is fine.

Most of the time, the effect of market storms is shallow, although there are times when they stir deeper, the financial crisis of 2008, for example.

Retirees can survive market volatility because not the entire portfolio is at risk of loss during a down market, that is, if it is properly diversified.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Adviser (California) in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Financial Planning. http://blog.betterfinancialeducation.com/.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Isanti Ambassador Program in search of new director http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/isanti-ambassador-program-in-search-of-new-director/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/isanti-ambassador-program-in-search-of-new-director/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 00:20:52 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?p=121910 Due to the arrival of her first child with her husband this Fourth of July, Amanda O’Connor is resigning as director of the Isanti Ambassador Program, and the program is in search of a new director.

Isanti Ambassador program director Amanda O’Connor with current Isanti Ambassadors Hannah Vandersteen, Maddie Simon and Kiely Fredlund.

Isanti Ambassador program director Amanda O’Connor with current Isanti Ambassadors Hannah Vandersteen, Maddie Simon and Kiely Fredlund.

O’Connor, a 2009 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School, was crowned an Isanti Ambassador in July 2009. She began assisting with the ambassador program shortly after her year of reign ended in 2010 and has been serving as director the last five years.

The Isanti Ambassador Program is an educational scholarship program serving young women in the Cambridge-Isanti area. It provides women ages 17-21 the opportunity to participate in a volunteer organization, learn more about their community and festival, learn lifelong skills and build lasting relationships.

O’Connor announced her resignation in early November and initially said she would finish out this year with the current royalty, and turn the program over to the new director in July at Isanti’s Rodeo Jubilee Days. But O’Connor said that is contingent upon the actual birth date of her daughter.

O’Connor decided to take on the role of director because she believes in the Isanti Ambassador Program.

“I saw the opportunity it provided young women in our community, and I saw how much they could achieve from participating,” O’Connor said. “At the time I took over, our program was in a state of transition and I saw the opportunity for improvement. I wanted to be able to give back to this program with a new perspective and provide other young women the same great experience I had.”

Jeff and Amanda O’Connor are expecting their first child together this Fourth of July.

Jeff and Amanda O’Connor are expecting their first child together this Fourth of July.

O’Connor enjoys the interaction with the candidates and ambassadors, she said.

“I most enjoyed getting to know the candidates and ambassadors on a personal level,” O’Connor said. “Each young woman is unique in her own way, and to follow her throughout the journey this program provides is incredibly rewarding. The ladies really blossom as young leaders, and there is nothing like witnessing their improvement first-hand. I can’t help but tear up thinking about how proud I am of each one of the ladies who has been a part of this program.”

O’Connor said the ambassador program is seeking a replacement director as soon as possible.

“I am more than willing to assist someone with questions and the learning curve that comes with this transition,” O’Connor said. “This program has been such a big part of my life that I would love to still be able to be involved and help in any way that I can. However, my priorities need to shift at this time to better serve my family, and that means director is not a role I could continue to fill adequately.”

O’Connor said the new program director should be a person who is organized; has a desire to give back to their community; has a driven personality; and is committed to giving youth in the area the opportunity to grow and participate in as many events as they can.

“As director there are many duties involved in the program including scheduling, fundraising, bankroll, advocate, chaperone and more,” O’Connor said. “Being an educational scholarship program, our schedule does mimic the school calendar a little bit, with the workload slightly less during the school year than in the summer time. The majority of my time with the ambassador program is spent ‘behind the scenes’ contacting other communities and coordinating events within our own community. The average amount of time I put in varies by month, but I would say a few hours a week throughout the school year and significantly more during the summer time, specifically May through August, when we have candidates and peak season for festivals.”

O’Connor said the ambassador program is important to the Isanti community.

“One of the biggest ways it impacts our area is that it serves as a network between the city of Isanti and communities all throughout the state,” O’Connor said. “The ambassadors reach out to members of these communities and spread the word about our great town and its festivities at each event they attend. It also provides young women in our area the opportunity to learn more about interview skills, public speaking, volunteerism and leadership. It helps them blossom into the incredible young adults they are destined to be, all while getting them more involved in their own community.”

O’Connor, who currently works as a registered nurse for Allina Health in the emergency department and is a partial owner of a business called SecondHands Fashion, gained life skills as an Isanti Ambassador and later as the director.

“The most beneficial skill I gained as a candidate was learning to interview in front of a panel of judges,” O’Connor said. “This was my first experience in that type of interview situation, and it has proven to be helpful at so many interviews since. As an ambassador, I gained lifelong relationships. Not only with the ambassadors I served within our community but in communities across the state. I learned the ability to network and make connections, and I am still frequently in contact with several of the ambassadors and other individuals I met during my reign. I would also add that, throughout my time with the ambassador program, from candidacy through my time as a director, I have learned the importance of volunteerism and how much it can mean to a community, an individual or an organization.”

For more specific information about the Isanti Ambassador program director position, contact O’Connor at isantiambassador@yahoo.com or Melissa Bettendorf with the North 65 Chamber of Commerce at Melissa@north65chamber.com or by calling 763-689-2505.

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Peoples Bank celebrates 50 Years with Shirley Olson http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/peoples-bank-celebrates-50-years-with-shirley-olson/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/peoples-bank-celebrates-50-years-with-shirley-olson/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 00:15:04 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?p=121908 Peoples Bank of Commerce will be celebrating with Shirley at their East Cambridge office the week of June 1-5 and invites the community to stop in for coffee and congratulate Olson on her milestone.

Olson has also been nominated for the Pioneer Banker award through Minnesota Bankers Association. The Pioneer Banker award is to recognize bankers who have devoted 50 years or more of service to the banking industry.  Peoples Bank is proud to announce Olson as a recipient of this award.

Olson was hired at Peoples State Bank as a teller in June of 1965 and was promoted to Assistant Cashier in 1974. The Bank was purchased in 1984 by Duke Financial Group, Inc., and became Peoples Bank of Commerce. Olson was promoted in 1985 to Operations Officer and then later to Cashier. She is currently Assistant Vice President, Audit and Security Officer.

Chief Financial Officer, Ed Kennedy, met with Olson recently and asked her to reminisce about her remarkable 50 years in banking, all at the same bank.

“Well, I’ve done just about everything imaginable in banking except lending,” Olson said.

When asked what she has enjoyed the most in her 50 years, Olson responded, “I always enjoyed the IT piece of banking.” When asked what has changed the most, she responded with a smile, “Well, certainly not the most important things like providing good customer service and using common sense.”

Said President and CEO Scott Laugen, “Shirley has been a dedicated and extremely committed employee to Peoples Bank of Commerce for 50 years. She has been an active community member throughout that time and we consider ourselves lucky to have her in our banking family. To be inducted into the MBA Pioneer Club is a wonderful way to honor Shirley on her 50 years.”

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Many enjoy Braham’s Color Run-Walk’ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/many-enjoy-brahams-color-run-walk/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/many-enjoy-brahams-color-run-walk/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 00:10:32 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?p=121898 Jolene Davis and Morgan  Davis, 8, did the 5K together. Photos by Julia Parent The first Braham Area 5K Color Run-Walk was held May 16 and included 290 participants. Funds raised from the event will benefit both local and council-wide Girl Scouts. Although the event was not timed, 20-year-old Bryce Lanhart was the first person to cross the finish line. Taylor Boeck, 15, and Shelby Miles, 15, douse participants with blue powder. These kids rolled in the powder that had accumulated on the street to coat themselves in blue. At the end of the 5K, the leftover powder was used for a color blast. Braham Mayor Tish Carlson and the Braham Area Girl Scouts hosted the event. People wore crazy and colorful socks to the event. People of all ages, including this group wearing tutus, participated in the event. ]]> http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/many-enjoy-brahams-color-run-walk/feed/ 0 Student winners honored in annual slogan contest http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/student-winners-honored-in-annual-slogan-contest/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/student-winners-honored-in-annual-slogan-contest/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 00:05:58 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?p=121893 Isanti County judges James Dehn and Amy Brosnahan awarded the middle school winners of the “table top tent slogan” contest during a presentation May 21 at the Isanti County Government Center in Cambridge. Pictured are second-place winners Mackenzie Frogner, 6th-grade, Isanti Middle School; Ashleigh Krosdel, 6th-grade, Cambridge Middle School; and Johan Pankan, 6th-grade, Cambridge Christian School. Pictured to the right of Brosnahan and Dehn are first-place winners Kaitlyn Bonkoski, 5th-grade, Cambridge Christian School; Cierra Karels, 6th-grade, Isanti Middle School; and Austin Chromy and Nicholas Claveau, (not pictured), 8th-grade, Cambridge Middle School. Photos by Rachel Kytonen For 17 years, the Rotary Club of Cambridge and Isanti and Cambridge Lions have awarded money to the winning poster-slogan contests. First-place winners received $50 donated by the Rotary, and second-place winners received $25 from the Cambridge Lions. The winning students also have the opportunity to shadow judges James Dehn or Amy Brosnahan in the courtroom for part of a day. Judge James Dehn explained this is the first year that table top tents, instead of posters, were the medium for the slogan contest. All table tents will be placed on Cambridge and Isanti bar tables during the first week of June. ]]> http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/student-winners-honored-in-annual-slogan-contest/feed/ 0 Bluejacket Robotics competes in world championships http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/bluejacket-robotics-competes-in-world-championships/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/bluejacket-robotics-competes-in-world-championships/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 00:00:14 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?p=121890 On April 21 through April 26, Cambridge-Isanti High School’s “Bluejacket Robotics” team traveled to St. Louis to attend the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis.

On April 21 through April 26, Cambridge-Isanti High School’s “Bluejacket Robotics” team traveled to St. Louis to attend the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis.

On April 21 through April 26, Cambridge-Isanti High School’s “Bluejacket Robotics” team traveled to St. Louis to attend the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis.

It is here that the team made up of 24 student team members and six adult mentors competed against more than 600 teams from across the country and from around the world. After many fierce matches, Bluejacket Robotics finished 68th out of the 76 teams in their division, which was impressive given that most every team at the competition has many more years of experience with FIRST Robotics.

On the morning of April 21, the team left the high school at 6:30 a.m. by charter bus where they had a police escort to the county line in celebration of the team qualifying for the World Championships.

While down at the competition the team was able to meet and visit with teams from various countries like Mexico, India, China and France all competing in this year’s robotics game called “Recycle Rush.”

During opening ceremonies of the competition, the team listened to President Obama via a recorded webcast talking about the importance of S.T.E.M. education and how FIRST Robotics greatly impacts young peoples’ lives in the areas of science and technology.

While in St. Louis, the team was also able to tour the famous St. Louis arch, see the city, attend a music concert sponsored by FIRST, and enjoy some local St. Louis restaurants. In addition many of the team members got to meet the actors from the TV show “Myth Busters,” who were also in attendance in this year’s championships.

It truly was a great experience for CIHS students and an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. The team would like to say a huge “thank you” to the school and community for of all the support this season.

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Your Best Estate Tool: Clarity http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/your-best-estate-tool-clarity/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/your-best-estate-tool-clarity/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 19:00:02 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?guid=1b7c1ab90f823950879fd431cb9fae85 When your heirs sort out your estate, they’ll get no directions from you – unless you planned well for one of life’s most emotional moments. Let your loved ones grieve (someday) without rancor. Specify what you want before it’s too late.

I’ve seen many estate planning situations and the outcomes sure varied. Inevitably, peaceful and easy estate distributions shared two common denominators: communication and preparation.

Estate battles rage far beyond the headlines of actor James Gandolfini or comedy legend Robin Williams. Many families are torn apart after a parent or grandparent dies, and size of the estate doesn’t matter. Money, believe it or not, is rarely the root of division in a family estate.

“Stories of families in conflict at the death of a loved one are regular fodder in the media. It is easy to mock them; they look ridiculous, and it all seems so petty,” writes P. Mark Accettura, author of Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance & What to Do About It.

“We wonder why people just can’t get along. But, after some study I have learned that what appears as greed and pettiness are really symptoms of survivors’ struggle to feel loved and important.”

Strife-filled and unnecessarily expensive situations often result from confusion and frustration about the deceased’s desires – sometimes over heirlooms many might consider almost trinkets.

For instance, my grandparents had six children and few financial assets. (I can tell about this now, incidentally, because most of the players are gone.) My grandfather wanted an auction after his death to sell everything, including the house and contents. The children were to then split all proceeds equally.

Seemed like a reasonable plan, and my grandparents’ will covered the legalities. But as it turned out, the will did not provide for exempting items of sentimental value from the auction.

My grandfather had a shotgun that he carried on hunting outings during my uncle’s childhood. The gun wasn’t worth much to anyone except my uncle and grandfather.

I can easily envision grandpa yanking the gun from the sell-everything clause if he’d seen what was coming. Another of my uncles had the cash, meant no harm and bought the shotgun at the auction.

This small purchase – probably less than $100 – ignited enormous family tension.

This situation and many like it over my career as an advisor inspire me to recommend some ground rules for estate planning. The most important: Be explicit about what you want to happen.

Make sure your spouse and children know where you want to be buried or cremated, the funeral home you want and as much about the type of service as you can. If a personal conversation seems too difficult, express your desires via a video or letter.

Update legal documents. Many people simply believe that wills cover all assets and divide everything appropriately. Remember, though, that an asset with a beneficiary (such as a life insurance policy or retirement savings account) never gets to your will: You might unintentionally leave children, charities or even spouses out of all or parts of your estate plan.

A letter of last instruction, while not a substitute for a will, also dictates instructions – to your spouse, loved one or even a third party – that are instrumental to your last wishes. Such a letter can specify where to find your key papers; give special instructions inappropriate for legal documents regarding, for example, education of your children or care of your pet; and perhaps come with copies of a will or others documents that you reference.

Bequeath, dictate, instruct: Whatever action you take, just do your family a big favor. Spell out your wishes.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Joseph “Big Joe” Clark, CFP, is the managing partner of the Financial Enhancement Group LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm in Indiana. He teaches financial planning at Purdue University and is the host of Consider This with Big Joe Clark, found on WQME and iTunes. He is a Registered Principal offering Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services through World Equity Group, Inc, member FINRA/SIPC. Big Joe can be reached at bigjoe@yourlifeafterwork.com, or (765) 640-1524. Follow him on Twitter at @Big Joe Clark and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FinancialEnhancementGroup.

Securities offered through and by World Equity Group Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services can be offered by the Financial Enhancement Group (FEG) or World Equity Group. FEG and World Equity Group are separately owned and operated.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

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When your heirs sort out your estate, they’ll get no directions from you – unless you planned well for one of life’s most emotional moments. Let your loved ones grieve (someday) without rancor. Specify what you want before it’s too late.

I’ve seen many estate planning situations and the outcomes sure varied. Inevitably, peaceful and easy estate distributions shared two common denominators: communication and preparation.

Estate battles rage far beyond the headlines of actor James Gandolfini or comedy legend Robin Williams. Many families are torn apart after a parent or grandparent dies, and size of the estate doesn’t matter. Money, believe it or not, is rarely the root of division in a family estate.

“Stories of families in conflict at the death of a loved one are regular fodder in the media. It is easy to mock them; they look ridiculous, and it all seems so petty,” writes P. Mark Accettura, author of Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance & What to Do About It.

“We wonder why people just can’t get along. But, after some study I have learned that what appears as greed and pettiness are really symptoms of survivors’ struggle to feel loved and important.”

Strife-filled and unnecessarily expensive situations often result from confusion and frustration about the deceased’s desires – sometimes over heirlooms many might consider almost trinkets.

For instance, my grandparents had six children and few financial assets. (I can tell about this now, incidentally, because most of the players are gone.) My grandfather wanted an auction after his death to sell everything, including the house and contents. The children were to then split all proceeds equally.

Seemed like a reasonable plan, and my grandparents’ will covered the legalities. But as it turned out, the will did not provide for exempting items of sentimental value from the auction.

My grandfather had a shotgun that he carried on hunting outings during my uncle’s childhood. The gun wasn’t worth much to anyone except my uncle and grandfather.

I can easily envision grandpa yanking the gun from the sell-everything clause if he’d seen what was coming. Another of my uncles had the cash, meant no harm and bought the shotgun at the auction.

This small purchase – probably less than $100 – ignited enormous family tension.

This situation and many like it over my career as an advisor inspire me to recommend some ground rules for estate planning. The most important: Be explicit about what you want to happen.

Make sure your spouse and children know where you want to be buried or cremated, the funeral home you want and as much about the type of service as you can. If a personal conversation seems too difficult, express your desires via a video or letter.

Update legal documents. Many people simply believe that wills cover all assets and divide everything appropriately. Remember, though, that an asset with a beneficiary (such as a life insurance policy or retirement savings account) never gets to your will: You might unintentionally leave children, charities or even spouses out of all or parts of your estate plan.

A letter of last instruction, while not a substitute for a will, also dictates instructions – to your spouse, loved one or even a third party – that are instrumental to your last wishes. Such a letter can specify where to find your key papers; give special instructions inappropriate for legal documents regarding, for example, education of your children or care of your pet; and perhaps come with copies of a will or others documents that you reference.

Bequeath, dictate, instruct: Whatever action you take, just do your family a big favor. Spell out your wishes.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Joseph “Big Joe” Clark, CFP, is the managing partner of the Financial Enhancement Group LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm in Indiana. He teaches financial planning at Purdue University and is the host of Consider This with Big Joe Clark, found on WQME and iTunes. He is a Registered Principal offering Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services through World Equity Group, Inc, member FINRA/SIPC. Big Joe can be reached at bigjoe@yourlifeafterwork.com, or (765) 640-1524. Follow him on Twitter at @Big Joe Clark and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FinancialEnhancementGroup.

Securities offered through and by World Equity Group Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services can be offered by the Financial Enhancement Group (FEG) or World Equity Group. FEG and World Equity Group are separately owned and operated.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

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Tax-Smart Investing http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/tax-smart-investing/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/tax-smart-investing/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?guid=7df92f0b83606a42070a28382e0887c7 No one likes to pay taxes. Although they are one of the two certain things in life, you want to do all you can to reduce this burden. The ways to achieve that is through investing long term in mutual funds specializing in broad asset classes and using tax-managed funds.

Investors are subject to two forms of taxes. On bond interest, you pay ordinary income tax. In addition, if you sell your investments for a gain within a year of purchase, you pay tax at ordinary rates, too.

However, if you have a profit from selling a security held for more than one year, you get a lower rate, the long-term capital gains rate. For most taxpayers, it is no higher than 15%.

As you can tell from the preferential tax treatment for investors holding securities more than one year, investing for the long term is better.

We are a major proponent of asset class investing, where you invest in funds that give you exposure to large classes of similar stocks, such as large U.S. companies or small international developed market companies.

When you invest this way, you avoid trading in and out of securities, because you stand pat with your broad-ranging funds. The only time that you need to sell pieces of an asset class is when you rebalance your portfolio toward your target allocation.

For the fixed-income allocation, investors can use municipal bonds to get interest exempt from federal income taxes. In most states, bond income from the investors who live there is free from state taxes.

But are there ways to further reduce the tax burden? There are. While we use asset class mutual funds to potentially save taxes, we can use what is known as tax-managed funds, which aim to minimize tax costs in the investment process.

The managers of these funds keep the tax impact low by avoiding short-term gains. Some of the techniques include tax lot accounting (keeping a record of the purchase and sale price of each security to get the best tax treatment) and tax loss harvesting (selling a security at a loss to offset taxable gains).

The tax managed funds that we use also run quantitative models to evaluate the cost of executing a trade. All these strategic moves seek to lower investors’ taxable income.

What we like about using the tax managed funds is their ability to adapt to the ever-changing tax code. The funds are able to make changes to their operating procedures to reflect new rules.

For investors in the higher brackets, paying fewer taxes is a substantial benefit. The next time you file your taxes, pay attention to the amount of long-term gains in your taxable portfolio versus short-term gains. Being smart about the tax consequences of investing can turn a good portfolio into a great one.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Dan Crimmins is the co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management LLC in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. His blog is Roots of Wealth.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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No one likes to pay taxes. Although they are one of the two certain things in life, you want to do all you can to reduce this burden. The ways to achieve that is through investing long term in mutual funds specializing in broad asset classes and using tax-managed funds.

Investors are subject to two forms of taxes. On bond interest, you pay ordinary income tax. In addition, if you sell your investments for a gain within a year of purchase, you pay tax at ordinary rates, too.

However, if you have a profit from selling a security held for more than one year, you get a lower rate, the long-term capital gains rate. For most taxpayers, it is no higher than 15%.

As you can tell from the preferential tax treatment for investors holding securities more than one year, investing for the long term is better.

We are a major proponent of asset class investing, where you invest in funds that give you exposure to large classes of similar stocks, such as large U.S. companies or small international developed market companies.

When you invest this way, you avoid trading in and out of securities, because you stand pat with your broad-ranging funds. The only time that you need to sell pieces of an asset class is when you rebalance your portfolio toward your target allocation.

For the fixed-income allocation, investors can use municipal bonds to get interest exempt from federal income taxes. In most states, bond income from the investors who live there is free from state taxes.

But are there ways to further reduce the tax burden? There are. While we use asset class mutual funds to potentially save taxes, we can use what is known as tax-managed funds, which aim to minimize tax costs in the investment process.

The managers of these funds keep the tax impact low by avoiding short-term gains. Some of the techniques include tax lot accounting (keeping a record of the purchase and sale price of each security to get the best tax treatment) and tax loss harvesting (selling a security at a loss to offset taxable gains).

The tax managed funds that we use also run quantitative models to evaluate the cost of executing a trade. All these strategic moves seek to lower investors’ taxable income.

What we like about using the tax managed funds is their ability to adapt to the ever-changing tax code. The funds are able to make changes to their operating procedures to reflect new rules.

For investors in the higher brackets, paying fewer taxes is a substantial benefit. The next time you file your taxes, pay attention to the amount of long-term gains in your taxable portfolio versus short-term gains. Being smart about the tax consequences of investing can turn a good portfolio into a great one.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Dan Crimmins is the co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management LLC in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. His blog is Roots of Wealth.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Excuses for Slow GDP Growth http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/excuses-for-slow-gdp-growth/ http://isanticountynews.com/2015/05/28/excuses-for-slow-gdp-growth/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 14:00:02 +0000 http://isanticountynews.com/?guid=e038f9a88b094a065272babd6903fcf5 The weather has done it again. For the second year in a row, officialdom blames bad winter weather for blah first-quarter economic growth. But this excuse doesn’t wash. Stimulus hasn’t worked.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in late April reported annualized growth of a piddling 0.2% for the first quarter of 2015. The culprit, of course, is not bad policy, but bad weather, if you believe the Federal Reserve Board.

Last year, the economy would have boomed during the first quarter, no doubt, if not for the “polar vortex.” But instead it shrunk by more than 2% (experts use the oxymoron “negative growth”). The same people who believe that will likely believe that the U.S. economy would have boomed during the first-quarter of 2015 if not for the dreadful winter.

The April reading was the BLS’s first take. Its next estimate for the first quarter GDP is due out tomorrow.

At least no one’s using the term “polar vortex” to describe the non-stop snowfall that hit much of America this past winter. And this year’s first-quarter growth is multiples better than last year’s first quarter mini-recession.

Winter may be over, but the economy remains cooled. The Fed is likely hoping for monsoons, tidal waves and earthquakes over the next few quarters to rationalize yet more non-growth in an economy that falls short of Fed projections. 

Per the chart below, the Fed has been overly optimistic about economic growth for each of the past four years – and that streak is likely to continue this year, given first-quarter performance.

Fed predictions for the future continue to be rose-colored, but not as rosy as they were previously, based on the Fed policy statement issued recently.

“Federal Reserve policy makers said some of the headwinds holding back the U.S. will probably fade and give way to ‘moderate’ growth,” Bloomberg reported. Maybe the Fed considers 0.3% annualized growth to be “moderate,” since it would be a 50% improvement over the first quarter.

Other factors cited as affecting economic growth include:

  • The strengthening dollar, which the end of quantitative easing (central bank bond buying) boosted here and the beginning of QE in other countries.
  • Lower oil prices, resulting in a slowdown in the energy sector – the one sector of the economy that has been thriving in recent years.
  • Dock worker strikes on the West Coast, which disrupted exports. Maybe the economy slowed down to demonstrate solidarity with the dock workers.

In its policy statement, the Fed said the slowdown was due, “in part” to “transitory factors.” So the economy has stumbled along, not even hitting 3% growth for nine years and we’re supposed to attribute the current economic state to transitory factors. When something is transitory, you expect it to change after a brief period. Our economic doldrums have been anything but transitory.

As The Wall Street Journal put it, “Transitory or not, growth sure was lousy.”

The Fed may have been referring to oil prices, which dropped to the point where the booming oil shale industry stopped booming. But even if oil prices return to higher levels (they edged up lately), the industry can’t just flip a switch and resume drilling.

And ironically, falling oil prices were the one bright spot for American consumers, giving them more disposable income and causing consumer spending to increase – although apparently not enough to boost economic growth.

It should be clear to anyone who is not a member of the Federal Open Market Committee that Fed policy is not working. The Fed’s twin mandate has been to maximize employment and stabilize prices, which for some reason it interprets as boosting the rate of inflation to 2%.

After trillions in bond buying and years of ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), it has accomplished neither. Inflation in the U.S. has been minimal and is likely to stay that way, given that the dollar has strengthened considerably, making imports cheaper. Maybe the Fed should declare victory and move on, since cheaper prices, combined with increasing income (however tepid) finally should boost consumer spending.

And while the unemployment rate has dropped considerably, the drop is largely due to millions of Americans having given up looking for work.

“One reason the jobless rate has fallen to 5.5% is because so many people have left the workforce,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “The labor participation rate has plunged to 1978 levels during this supposedly splendid expansion. Most economists acknowledge that if the participation rate had stayed constant, the jobless rate would still be close to 8%.”

When headwinds prevail, those who are steering the boat have two choices. They can continue to move full force into the headwinds and get nowhere – or they can change direction. Changing direction would be the wiser choice today.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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The weather has done it again. For the second year in a row, officialdom blames bad winter weather for blah first-quarter economic growth. But this excuse doesn’t wash. Stimulus hasn’t worked.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in late April reported annualized growth of a piddling 0.2% for the first quarter of 2015. The culprit, of course, is not bad policy, but bad weather, if you believe the Federal Reserve Board.

Last year, the economy would have boomed during the first quarter, no doubt, if not for the “polar vortex.” But instead it shrunk by more than 2% (experts use the oxymoron “negative growth”). The same people who believe that will likely believe that the U.S. economy would have boomed during the first-quarter of 2015 if not for the dreadful winter.

The April reading was the BLS’s first take. Its next estimate for the first quarter GDP is due out tomorrow.

At least no one’s using the term “polar vortex” to describe the non-stop snowfall that hit much of America this past winter. And this year’s first-quarter growth is multiples better than last year’s first quarter mini-recession.

Winter may be over, but the economy remains cooled. The Fed is likely hoping for monsoons, tidal waves and earthquakes over the next few quarters to rationalize yet more non-growth in an economy that falls short of Fed projections. 

Per the chart below, the Fed has been overly optimistic about economic growth for each of the past four years – and that streak is likely to continue this year, given first-quarter performance.

Fed predictions for the future continue to be rose-colored, but not as rosy as they were previously, based on the Fed policy statement issued recently.

“Federal Reserve policy makers said some of the headwinds holding back the U.S. will probably fade and give way to ‘moderate’ growth,” Bloomberg reported. Maybe the Fed considers 0.3% annualized growth to be “moderate,” since it would be a 50% improvement over the first quarter.

Other factors cited as affecting economic growth include:

  • The strengthening dollar, which the end of quantitative easing (central bank bond buying) boosted here and the beginning of QE in other countries.
  • Lower oil prices, resulting in a slowdown in the energy sector – the one sector of the economy that has been thriving in recent years.
  • Dock worker strikes on the West Coast, which disrupted exports. Maybe the economy slowed down to demonstrate solidarity with the dock workers.

In its policy statement, the Fed said the slowdown was due, “in part” to “transitory factors.” So the economy has stumbled along, not even hitting 3% growth for nine years and we’re supposed to attribute the current economic state to transitory factors. When something is transitory, you expect it to change after a brief period. Our economic doldrums have been anything but transitory.

As The Wall Street Journal put it, “Transitory or not, growth sure was lousy.”

The Fed may have been referring to oil prices, which dropped to the point where the booming oil shale industry stopped booming. But even if oil prices return to higher levels (they edged up lately), the industry can’t just flip a switch and resume drilling.

And ironically, falling oil prices were the one bright spot for American consumers, giving them more disposable income and causing consumer spending to increase – although apparently not enough to boost economic growth.

It should be clear to anyone who is not a member of the Federal Open Market Committee that Fed policy is not working. The Fed’s twin mandate has been to maximize employment and stabilize prices, which for some reason it interprets as boosting the rate of inflation to 2%.

After trillions in bond buying and years of ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), it has accomplished neither. Inflation in the U.S. has been minimal and is likely to stay that way, given that the dollar has strengthened considerably, making imports cheaper. Maybe the Fed should declare victory and move on, since cheaper prices, combined with increasing income (however tepid) finally should boost consumer spending.

And while the unemployment rate has dropped considerably, the drop is largely due to millions of Americans having given up looking for work.

“One reason the jobless rate has fallen to 5.5% is because so many people have left the workforce,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “The labor participation rate has plunged to 1978 levels during this supposedly splendid expansion. Most economists acknowledge that if the participation rate had stayed constant, the jobless rate would still be close to 8%.”

When headwinds prevail, those who are steering the boat have two choices. They can continue to move full force into the headwinds and get nowhere – or they can change direction. Changing direction would be the wiser choice today.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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