It's easy to confuse Medicare and Medicaid, particularly since they're both government programs that pay for health care. But there are important differences between each program. Medicare is generally for older people, while Medicaid is for people with limited income and resources.
A recent survey of baby boomers (ages 53 to 69) found that just 24% were confident they would have enough money to last throughout retirement. Forty-five percent had no retirement savings at all, and of those who did have savings, 42% had saved less than $100,000.1
Your own savings may be on more solid ground, but regardless of your current balance, it's smart to keep it growing. If you're 50 or older, you could benefit by making catch-up contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. You might be surprised by how much your nest egg could grow late in your working career.
When it comes to planning your estate, you might be wondering whether you should use a will or a trust (or both). Understanding the similarities and the differences between these two important documents may help you decide which strategy is better for you.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that lets you direct how your property will be dispersed (among other things) when you die. It becomes effective only after your death. It also allows you to name an estate executor as the legal representative who will carry out your wishes.
In many states, your will is the only legal way you can name a guardian for your minor children. Without a will, your property will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of your state. Keep in mind that wills and trusts are legal documents generally governed by state law, which may differ from one state to the next.
The second quarter of 2016 marked the fifth quarter in a row of declining U.S. corporate earnings. Low oil prices and a strong dollar were largely to blame for lackluster financial results.1
Publicly traded companies are required to report quarterly financial results to regulators and shareholders. Earnings season is the often-turbulent period when most companies must disclose their successes and failures.
In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds target rate to a range of 0.25% to 0.50%, the first rate increase from the near-zero range where it had lingered for seven years. Many economists viewed this action as a positive sign that the Fed had finally deemed the U.S. economy healthy enough to withstand slightly higher interest rates. It remains to be seen how rate increases will play out for the remainder of 2016. In the meantime, try taking this short quiz to test your interest rate knowledge.
In 1981, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller published a groundbreaking study that contradicted a prevailing theory that markets are always efficient. If they were, stock prices
would generally mirror the growth in earnings and dividends. Shiller's research showed that stock prices fluctuate more often than changes in companies' intrinsic valuations (such as dividend yield) would suggest.1
Shiller concluded that asset prices sometimes move erratically in the short term simply because investor behavior can be influenced by emotions such as greed and fear. Many investors would agree that it's sometimes difficult to stay calm and act rationally, especially when unexpected events upset the financial markets.