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January 2018: How Much Risk Can You Take?

Many market shocks are short-lived once investors conclude the event is unlikely to cause lasting economic damage. Still, major market downturns such as the 2000 dot-com bust and the 2008-09 credit crisis are powerful reminders that we cannot control or predict exactly how, where, or when precarious situations will arise.

Market risk refers to the possibility that an investment will lose value because of a broad decline in the financial markets, which can be the result of economic or sociopolitical factors. Investors who are willing to accept more investment risk may benefit from higher returns in the good times, but they also get hit harder during the bad times. A more conservative portfolio generally means there are fewer highs, but also fewer lows.

Your portfolio's risk profile should reflect your ability to endure periods of market volatility, both financially and emotionally. Here are some questions that may help you evaluate your personal relationship with risk.

December 2017: Questions to Ask Before Buying That Thing You've Always Wanted

Even if you're generally comfortable with your finances, you may occasionally worry about how much you're spending, especially if you consistently have trouble saving for shortor long-term goals. Here are a few questions to ask that might help you decide whether a purchase is really worth it.

Why do I want it?

Maybe you've worked hard and think you deserve to buy something you've always wanted. That may be true, but are you certain you're not being unduly influenced by other factors such as stress or boredom? Take a moment to think about what's important to you. Comfort? Security? Safety? Status? Quality? Thriftiness? Does your purchase align with your values, or are you unconsciously allowing other people (advertisers, friends, family, neighbors, for example) to influence your spending?

Transfers through your will take the form of specific bequests (e.g., an heirloom, jewelry, furniture, or cash), general bequests (e.g., a percentage of your property), or a residuary bequest of what's left after your other transfers. It is generally a good practice to name backup beneficiaries just in case they are needed.

November 2017: What you can do with a Will

A will is often the cornerstone of an estate plan. Here are five things you can do with a will.

Distribute property as you wish

Wills enable you to leave your property at your death to a surviving spouse, a child, other relatives, friends, a trust, a charity, or anyone you choose. There are some limits, however, on how you can distribute property using a will. For instance, your spouse may have certain rights with respect to your property, regardless of the provisions of your will.

Transfers through your will take the form of specific bequests (e.g., an heirloom, jewelry, furniture, or cash), general bequests (e.g., a percentage of your property), or a residuary bequest of what's left after your other transfers. It is generally a good practice to name backup beneficiaries just in case they are needed.

October 2017: Company Stock and Your Portfolio: Keep Your Eye on Concentration Risk

The opportunity to acquire company stock — inside or outside a workplace retirement plan — can be a lucrative employee benefit. But having too much of your retirement plan assets or net worth concentrated in your employer's stock could become a problem if the company or sector hits hard times and the stock price plummets.

Buying shares of any individual stock carries risks specific to that company or industry. A shift in market forces, regulation, technology, competition — even mismanagement, scandals, and other unexpected events — could damage the value of the business. Worst case, the stock price may never recover. Adding to this risk, employees who own shares of company stock depend on the same company for their income and benefits.

Time for a concentration checkup?

The possibility of heavy losses from having a large portion of portfolio holdings in one investment, asset class, or market segment is known as concentration risk. With company stock, this risk can build up gradually.

September 2017: Tips for Stress-Free Air Travel

You've seen the disturbing viral videos of long lines at crowded airports and angry passengers on planes. Maybe you've even witnessed these scenes yourself. Inclement weather, an airline computer outage, or even just bad luck can disrupt travel plans for anyone at any time. Before your next flight, consider these tips to help reduce stress on your next airport visit.

Travel off-peak

Certain days and/or times are busier than others. As a result, you may want to avoid peak travel times, such as during the holidays or the afternoon/evening. By adjusting your travel schedule by one day or even just a few hours, you might face fewer crowds and decrease your travel time.

Take the road less traveled

Avoid travel hubs with the most air traffic. Instead, try searching nearby, smaller airports to see whether they offer flights to your destination. Smaller airports may offer cheaper flights and often have fewer delays and less traffic to and from the airport. You can also research whether a specific airline or flight route is usually on time or late by checking its on-time performance.

August 2017: Working in Retirement: What You Need to Know

Planning on working during retirement? If so, you're not alone. Recent studies have consistently shown that a majority of retirees plan to work at least some period of time during their retirement  years. Here are some points to consider. 

Why work during retirement?  

Obviously, if you work during retirement, you'll be earning money and relying less on your retirement savings, leaving more to grow for the future. You may also have access to affordable health care, as more and more employers offer this important benefit to part-time employees. But there are also non-economic reasons for working during retirement. Many retirees work for personal fulfillment, to stay mentally and physically active, to enjoy the social benefits of working, and to try their hand at something new.  

What about my Social Security benefit? 

Working may enable you to postpone claiming Social Security until a later date. In general, the later you begin receiving benefit payments, the greater your benefit will be. Whether delaying the start of Social Security benefits is the right decision for you depends on your personal circumstances.

One factor to consider is whether you want to continue working after you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, because your earnings may affect the amount of your benefit payment.

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