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Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Our blog sets the heading to separate financial fiction from financial fact to help keep you afloat and stay the course. From 401(k) IRA Rollovers to Life Insurance, Living Trusts, Social Security, Annuity Rates and everything in between, we are here to educate the community about important financial topics that affect your estate and retirement plans.

New Medicare Cards for Tampa Bay Beneficiaries Coming Soon

In the coming months, they will reach retiree mailboxes. New Medicare cards will be mailed out between now and next April. They have an 11-digit I.D. number instead of your SSN, and they are made of paper rather than plastic. This new 11-digit number is called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). If you have recently moved, be sure to provide the Social Security Administration with your new address so that your new card can reach you without delay. Once you get the new card, be sure to destroy the old one, and guard your MBI as you would guard your SSN.1,2 As you await the new I.D. card, watch out for fraud. Ironically, this preventive measure against identity theft is motivating crimi

Weekly Economic Update for April 23, 2018

WEEKLY QUOTE “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” - William Faulkner CONSUMERS BOUGHT MORE IN MARCH According to a report from the Department of Commerce, retail sales jumped 0.6% last month. That was the biggest monthly gain recorded since November (and the first monthly advance of 2018). Sales of cars and trucks were up 2.0%, making March the best month for that category since September.1 CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY INCREASES New Census Bureau data shows housing starts improved 1.9% in March; also, building permits rose 2.5%. In February, permits fell 4.1% and starts declined 3.3%.2 INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT RISES 0.5% This March gain

Age 64 in Palm Harbor Florida? Prepare to Sign Up for Medicare

This is the time to arrange lifelong health coverage. Age 64 is the age when you are reminded to sign up for Medicare. The sign-up period will be here before you know it. In fact, you might already be within it, so act quickly if you are. Medicare gives you a 7-month window in which to enroll. That initial enrollment window opens three months prior to the month in which you turn 65 and closes three months after the month in which you turn 65.1 If you fail to enroll within that 7-month period, the chances are good that you will end up paying a late-enrollment penalty for not signing up for Part B coverage on time. That penalty is permanent. You will also have to wait until the next general en

Weekly Economic Update for April 16, 2018

WEEKLY QUOTE “Truth burns up error.” - Sojourner Truth CONSUMER SENTIMENT INDEX DESCENDS SLIGHTLY In its initial April edition, the University of Michigan’s survey of household sentiment saw its index decline to 97.8 from its final March reading of 101.4. The survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, believed that “uncertainty surrounding the evolving [U.S.] trade policy” affected the reading, but he added that “confidence still remains relatively high.”1 A SURPRISE RETREAT FOR THE HEADLINE CPI Economists polled by assumed the Consumer Price Index would rise 0.1% in March. Instead, it fell by that amount, largely due to a dip in gasoline costs. Core consumer inflation increased

TSP Withdrawal Options Are Changing for Florida Residents

New rules could soon mean more flexibility. By 2020, federal employees with Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts should have new withdrawal choices for their invested assets. New rules are scheduled to be implemented through the TSP Modernization Act, permitting TSP participants more flexibility.1 The TSP withdrawal rules have been strict for many years. Too strict, in the opinion of many – especially compared to the private-sector workplace retirement plans the TSP takes after. Once a federal worker makes a partial withdrawal, he or she is locked into three choices. Choice one is converting the remaining balance to a life annuity (which the federal worker must buy and which is not the same as

Weekly Economic Update for April 9, 2018

WEEKLY QUOTE “No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.” - Agnes de Mille HIRING WEAKENED IN MARCH Payrolls expanded by only 103,000 net new jobs last month, according to the latest employment report from the Department of Labor. Some economists wondered if harsh weather distorted the number (job growth was also poor in March 2015 and March 2017). The main jobless rate stayed at 4.1%; the broader U-6 rate, counting the underemployed, fell 0.2% to 8.0%, an 11-year low. Yearly wage growth was at 2.7%. Lastly, February’s huge net job gain was revised up by 13,000 to 326,000.1 TRADE TENSIONS PERSIST Thursday night, the Trump administrati

Why Life Insurance Matters for New Homeowners

It addresses a significant financial risk. If you buy a home and you have no life insurance, there is a financial risk. It may not be immediately evident, but it must be acknowledged – and it should be addressed. What if you die, and your spouse or partner is left to pay off the mortgage alone? This possibility may seem remote, and it may be hard for you to contemplate. It deserves consideration regardless. Imagine your loved one having to handle that 15-year or 30-year debt by themselves. (Or the debt on an adjustable-rate loan or jumbo mortgage.) Additionally, how would that heavy financial burden come to impact your children’s lives? These tragedies do occur and do bring these kinds of em

Weekly Economic Update for April 2, 2018

WEEKLY QUOTE “Silence is more musical than any song.” - Christina Rossetti HAS CONSUMER SPENDING MAINTAINED ITS PACE? A new Department of Commerce report states that consumer spending rose 0.2% in February as consumer incomes improved 0.4%. These numbers replicated January’s gains. Even so, the personal savings rate hit a 6-month peak of 3.4% in February, suggesting that spending may have leveled off in the first quarter. Newly revised data shows that the economy was very healthy in the fourth quarter. Real consumer spending (personal spending adjusted for inflation) increased 4.0% while Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.9% annual rate. (The previous Q4 GDP estimate was 2.5%.)1,2 STILL

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You’ve probably been planning for retirement in some way, shape, or form for many years. Maybe you participate in your company’s 401(k) plan or set aside money in a traditional or Roth IRA. Maybe your employer offers a pension plan. As you get closer to retirement, it’s important to plan for your retirement income in specific detail.

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