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March 2018: Due Date Approaches for 2017 Federal Income Tax Returns

Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together — that includes getting your hands on a copy of your 2016 tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records. You'll need these records whether you're preparing your own return or paying someone else to prepare your tax return for you.

February 2018: What's Your Money Script?

Money is power. A fool and his money are soon parted. A penny saved is a penny earned. Money is the root of all evil. Do any of these expressions ring true for you? As it turns out, the money beliefs our families espoused while we were growing up may have a profound effect on how we behave financially today — and may even influence our financial success.

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.

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