Personal Succession Planning – Part I

I recently gave a presentation to clients regarding personal succession planning.  I prefer to call it personal succession planning versus estate planning because many people view estate planning as only being important should one die, but it also comes into play should you become disabled or unable to make decisions for yourself.  Failing to plan … Continued

What You Need in Your Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is money set aside for unforeseen events such as sudden unemployment, short-term disability, a natural disaster or a major car repair.  Having an emergency fund is a vital part of everyone’s financial plan; without an emergency fund an unexpected medical bill could put you over the edge and force you to incur … Continued

Start Saving For Retirement

Changes in corporate pension plans, increasing risks associated with the certainty of public pension plan funding and questions about the long-term sustainability of social security payments suggest that Americans should step up their game and start saving for tomorrow, today. Precise estimates tend to vary, however, it is clear that Americans are not saving enough … Continued

Teaching Your Children about Saving and Investing

As an investment advisor and wealth planner, Sigma represents many clients who have already accumulated substantial savings through hard work, responsible spending habits, and sound financial decisions. However, to many parents’ dismay, their children are not following their example.  Compounding the problem, many parents have a natural tendency to help their kids financially.  Yet, in … Continued

Compounding: The Secret to Wealth Accumulation

Vote early and vote often is a tongue-in-cheek phrase used in relation to elections and the voting process, often with reference to Chicago and Cook County. Save early and save often is the key to wealth creation through the miracle of compound interest. Saving early is critical.  A dollar saved and invested at 10% when … Continued

Can’t Save Money? Think Again

Can’t is not a synonym for “won’t”. A recent article in U.S. News & World Report by Robert Berger made some interesting points with the provocative headline “Would You Give Up Cable to Retire Early?”. The key point in his article was based on the effect of compound interest. He postulated that the average … Continued

Mortgage Math

Many homeowners are starting to feel the positive effects of an early recovery in housing prices. In fact, the widely-followed S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which is one of the broadest measures of national home prices, was up more than 10% for the 12 month period ending March 31, 2013. For most prospective homebuyers, the process … Continued

A Low Tax Bill Does Not Mean a Poor Investment Year

During a recent portfolio review with one of my clients, she asked me why she didn’t have to pay any taxes last year even though her portfolio had substantially increased in value. She said the income and gains reported on her tax return were minimal. She was expecting a large tax bill given the portfolio … Continued

Municipal Bond Income – Tax Target

The most recent Presidential proposal to raise tax revenue once again targets the two percent. But does it? The proposal would cap the tax exemption at 28%; for those in higher brackets income derived from municipal bonds would be taxed for the percent their tax bracket is above that waterline. For example, consider someone who … Continued

‘The Retirement Gamble’

A few days ago, PBS Frontline ran a made-for-TV special titled “The Retirement Gamble”. Given the stir that this piece generated in our mainstream media as well among our clients, I felt it would be worthwhile to comment. First, we agree with the premise that most Americans are not adequately prepared for retirement. That is, … Continued