Tag Archives: financial advice

3 Reasons Bulls Can Believe In This Stock-market Rally

roller coaster2My Comments: In keeping with my effort to stay away from Woe & Gloom stuff, here is my latest, read it and don’t weep article.

Sept 28, 2016 | by Barbara Kollmeyer

The bulls have been nervous for a while, yet the stock market keeps rising.

Those who think the market has run out of steam are not hard to find. A possible Federal Reserve hike in December — or not, which could create a crisis of confidence in the central bank — is just one reason some think the market is high enough as it stands. Then there’s a presidential election in November whose outcome no one is ready to predict with any certainty.

Still, some, like Sean Emory, chief investment officer of Avory & Co., say bring on the fourth quarter, because the S&P 500 SPX, has plenty of strength to keep going through the end of the year and on into the early part of 2017.

He gives three reasons to back that up but notes that it’s important the index stays above 2,100 for this to all work, and if it goes below that level then he’d trim some long exposure.

The first reason that Emory believes the market will move higher is that it’s such a hated bull market, as evidenced by surveys from the American Association of Individual Investors; the second is that the spread between dividends and 10-year Treasurys is sitting in positive territory, a rarity, and that will keep propping up demand for equities, he says. The last reason is seasonality.

The fourth quarter, he says, “has historically been up 80% of the time over the last 50 years, and [in the] 30 to 60 trading sessions post-elections the market has been up 60% to 63% of the time since 1928.”

The worst period for buying around elections is the seven days just after, according to Emory.

Here’s his chart that lays out those figures:

Politics and Religion Should NOT Mix

CharityMy Comments: Some very good friends of mine have tried to “save” me. They’re fearful I will die and not go to heaven, and God will blame them for not trying hard enough. My sincere apologies. This article appeared a year ago and still resonates with me.

I grew up all over the world, with parents who were cynical about religion. My father had no trouble confessing to being a sinner, but he refused to accept that he was a ‘miserable sinner’ as decreed by the Church of England.

I followed in the distant footsteps of the Pilgrims, though not for religious reasons. I came with my parents for economic reasons, and have embraced these United States and the constitutional doctrine of religious freedom. For me, that means I can believe and have faith on my terms and not as dictated by someone else.

Some politicians believe the Constitution is flawed; no one who self-identifies as Muslim is qualified to be President. The same was said about Jack Kennedy because he was Catholic, something I well remember.

This same bias reappeared in slightly different form when there was a candidate named Barack Obama, who, perish the thought, was not a white anglo-saxon protestant. Why do these people call themselves American and revere the Constitution?

Barbara Hammond | 09/14/2015

Everyone I know is sick of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk, and so am I, but I want to share a couple of stories about her religion and Mr. Huckabee’s, as well.

He’s Southern Baptist and she’s Apostolic/Pentecostal which is more rigid in their edicts for women and their boisterous rituals.
When I was seven I witnessed a Pentecostal church service with a crazy woman, my step-father’s step-mother. She was an alcoholic who kept a bottle of beer under her bed every night so she could drink it before her feet hit the floor in the morning.

I don’t remember why I ended up alone with her one evening, but I will never forget the evening. I sat quietly in front of the TV hoping my mom would pick me up before Hazel got drunk. I wasn’t at all prepared for what happened.

She went upstairs and I was sure she would pass out and that would be the end of it, but she came downstairs all dressed up, including a big flowery hat.

“Get in the car kid, we’re going to church,” she said.

I didn’t dare argue. We got in the car and drove a little ways before turning onto a dirt road. A small building came into view all lit up and full of people.

It wasn’t like any church I’d seen before. It seemed to be under construction, and maybe it was, but the inside had a pulpit and pews. They were just getting started, so we sat in the back.

I tucked into the corner of the pew and took in the scene. It was quite a spectacle of bright colors and crazy hats. The minister was a woman with hair about as long as Kim Davis’. They all started singing and things got rowdy, but the minister quieted them and began her sermon.

I understood some of it until she began to speak in another language. I later learned she was speaking in tongues. Soon others piped in with their own versions and it got crazier.

Within a matter of moments there were people leaping down the aisle doing acrobatics like I’d never seen. The entire scene scared me to death. I hid under the pew but kept a close eye on Hazel, in case she might leave me there. She didn’t, thank God, but it seemed an eternity before we got home.

I never stayed with her again.

My grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister. He never had his own church in Ohio, but he went every Sunday. Since I lived with them often I went, too.

I remember my fear of ‘altar call’ like it was yesterday. At the end of the service, the preacher would ask the congregation if they had been saved and if not to come and accept the Lord as their savior.

Granddaddy would put his big hand on my shoulder and say, “You been saved girl?”

I would nod my little head so hard it hurt. There was no way I was walking up the aisle while the congregation sang, “Just as I Am.” I cringe when I hear it, to this day.

The hypocrisy of altar call is at the heart of Kim Davis’ story. You see, when you prostrate yourself at the altar and repent your sins in front of everyone, all is forgiven. Even if you cheated on your husband and got pregnant, then divorced your husband and married again…and again…and again.

Being ‘saved’ is what it’s called and you can do it over and over again. My uncle was a master of this game.

Uncle Chuck was a truck driver. He was gone a lot while my aunt raised their kids. One evening, while watching the evening news, she saw a story about a truck stop raid outside of Atlanta. Seems there was a prostitution ring and several truck drivers were arrested during the raid. Guess whose face made the evening news?

He came home and cried like a baby and swore he was going to beg God to forgive him. He marched up the aisle Sunday morning to ‘Just as I Am’ and sure enough, all was forgiven.

The righteousness of those freshly saved is nauseating, to me. I’ve seen it more times than I can count and, in my opinion, it’s a crutch. Catholics go to confession. At least their sins are between them, a priest and their God.

Davis, Huckabee and their ilk are religious when it’s convenient. I believe in forgiveness from your God when you are genuinely repentant, not when it serves your ulterior motives.

Invest or Die

My Comments: This reminds me of an old gag by Jack Benny. Well known for being cheap, he was confronted by someone with a gun who said, “Your money or your life!”. Jack took his time and when pressed for an answer, replied “I’m thinking”.

I’m slowly re-evaluating my focus on not losing money, to a reluctant, let’s have more exposure to equities and bonds. But only for those funds that are not critical to your ability to pay your normal, every day bills. For that money, I have another solution.

By Investing Caffeine on September 24, 2016

Seventy-six million Baby Boomers are earning near 0% (or negative rates) and aren’t getting any younger in the process, which is forcing them and others to decide…invest or die. The risk of outliving your savings is becoming a larger reality these days. Demographics and economics are dictating that our aging population is living longer and earning less due to generationally low interest rates.

Richard Fisher, the former Dallas Federal Reserve president, understands these looming dynamics. Fisher has identified how low-interest rates are increasing investor discontent by pushing consumers to save more in order to meet retirement needs. The unintended consequence from low rates, he said, is “you’re going to have to save a hell of a lot more before you consume.”

Besides saving, the other option investors have is to lower your standard of living. For example, you could continually eat mac & cheese and sleep in a tent – that is indeed one way you could save money. However, your kids and/or desired lifestyle may make this way of life unpalatable for all. Rather, the proper approach to achieving a comfortable standard of living requires you to invest more efficiently and prudently.

What a lot of individuals fail to understand is that accepting too much risk can be just as dangerous as being too conservative, over the long run. Case in point, depositing your savings into a CD at current interest rates (near 0%) is the equivalent of burning your cash, as any income produced is overwhelmed by the deleterious effects of inflation. It would take more than a lifetime of CD interest income to equal equity returns earned over the last seven years. Since early 2009, stocks have more than tripled in value.

Given the prevailing economic and demographic trends, investors are slowly realizing the attractive income-producing nature of stocks relative to bonds. It has been a rare occurrence, but stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, continue to yield more than 10-Year Treasury Notes (2.0% vs. 1.6%, respectively). The picture for bonds looks even worse in many international markets, where $13 trillion in bonds are yielding negative interest rates. Unlike bonds, which generally pay fixed coupon payments for years at a time, stocks overall have historically increased their dividend payouts by approximately 6% annually.

With a scarcity of attractive investment alternatives available, investors will eventually be forced to adopt higher levels of equity risk, like it or not. However, this dynamic has yet to happen. Currently, actions are speaking louder than words; risk aversion reigns supreme with Americans tucking over $8 trillion dollars under their mattress, in the form of savings accounts, earning next to nothing and jeopardizing retirements.

Even if you fall into the camp that believes rates are artificially low by central bank printing presses, that doesn’t mean every company is recklessly leveraging their balance sheets up to the hilt. Many companies are still scared silly from the financial crisis and conservatively managing every penny of expense, like a stingy retiree living on a fixed income. Thanks to this reluctance to spend and hire aggressively, profit margins are at/near record highs. This financial stewardship has freed up corporations’ ability to pay higher dividends and implement discretionary stock buybacks as means to return capital to shareholders.

With the dovish Fed judiciously raising interest rates – only one rate hike of 0.25% over a decade (2006 – 2016) – there are no signs this ultra-low interest rate environment is going to turn aggressively higher anytime soon. Until economic growth, inflation, and interest rates return with a vengeance, and the persistent investor risk aversion abates, it behooves all the cash hoarders to….invest or die!

Don’t Fall for These 7 Social Security Myths

SSA-image-3My Comments: It must be Tuesday because here is something about Social Security. It’s an incredibly valuable and complex system, started over 80 years ago to provide a financial safety net for Americans who reach an age when working is/was not really an option. Today, society has evolved to where it’s a critical piece of the financial pie for almost everyone.

Many myths have surfaced during the years that influence are acceptance of it and how we should avail ourselves of the safety net. Here are seven.

BTW my next series of workshops on Social Security starts on October 11. Go here to see what it’s about and how to register. http://www.myafea.org/chapters/gainesvillefl

By Jane Bennett Clark – Kiplinger, September 2016

Social Security provides critical benefits to more than 50 million people a year; almost 170 million workers contribute a chunk of their paycheck, to the tune of $900 billion annually, to keep those benefits flowing. You’d think with all the people and money involved that we’d all understand exactly how the program works.

Not so. The complexity of the system, its evolution and a shift in demographics that threatens its solvency have created confusion over what Social Security can and will deliver . . . and even whether it will continue to exist. Here are seven of the most common myths and misconceptions, along with explanations that set the record straight.

Social Security Will Go Broke Within the Next 20 Years

Social Security is essentially a pay-as-you-go system. Most everyone contributes 6.2% of each paycheck, and employers kick in an equal amount (self-employed folks pay the full 12.4%). As long as payroll taxes exist, Social Security will never go broke.

Until 2010, payroll taxes brought in more than enough to cover benefits for retirees and other recipients. The surplus went into a trust fund, which is invested in special Treasury securities. The fund also reaps interest on the securities plus taxes on the benefits of some beneficiaries.

Problem: In recent years, more money has gone out in benefits than has come in from payroll taxes. The government has been using the interest on the securities to cover the shortfall but will have to start redeeming the securities themselves by 2020. Failing a fix by Congress to raise taxes or cut benefits, or both, the trust fund will run out of money in 2034.

That doesn’t mean benefits will disappear altogether. Payroll taxes will still be enough to cover 79% of promised benefits. Will a 21% reduction in benefits really happen? Probably not. Much as Congress dislikes confronting hard choices, it is not likely to risk the reaction of millions of Social Security beneficiaries (read voters) to the idea of such a cut. Expect a solution to be pounded out long before 2034.

You Don’t Have to Pay Taxes on Social Security Benefits

For millions of beneficiaries, that’s wishful thinking. If your combined income—that is, adjusted gross income not including any Social Security benefits plus any nontaxable interest plus half your benefits—is between $25,000 and $34,000 for singles and $32,000 to $44,000 for couples filing jointly, you’ll owe taxes on up to 50% of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income exceeds the $34,000 limit for singles or the $44,000 limit for couples, you’ll owe tax on up to 85% of your benefits. Just over half of all beneficiaries paid federal tax on Social Security benefits in 2015.

You may also have to pay state taxes on part of your benefits. Four states—Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia—tax up to 85% of Social Security benefits. Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Utah also tax a portion of Social Security benefits but provide exemptions based on income or age.

Due to Social Security’s Shortfall, You Won’t Get Back the Dollars You Contributed to the System

Reality check: You don’t get back exactly what you put into the system anyway. Benefits are based on your 35 highest-earning years. But Social Security uses a progressive formula that replaces a higher portion of income for lower earners than for high earners—not a dollar-for-dollar match of what each worker pays in. Whether you’ll recoup more or less than the amount of tax you paid into the system depends on your earnings and how much tax you paid during your career, your age when you claim benefits, whether you’re married, and how long you (and your spouse) live to collect benefits.

Even if Social Security did pay a dollar-for-dollar match, the dollars you contributed are not stowed in your personal lock box, awaiting you at retirement. In fact, the money you paid went to fund someone else’s retirement; your benefits come from the payroll taxes of current workers.

Raising the Bar on Earnings Subject to Payroll Taxes Would Fix the System’s Shortfall

Under the current system, workers pay 6.2% of their wages, up to $118,500 in 2016, to fund Social Security benefits; employers kick in another 6.2%. If you’re self-employed, you pay the whole 12.4%, up to $118,500. (You and your employer also pay 1.45% each to fund Medicare Part A, which covers hospital stays. That tax has no income cap.) Some policymakers maintain that raising or eliminating the cap on payroll taxes would generate enough money to get the system back on track.

Not so, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan policy group. Although removing the cap would significantly improve Social Security’s finances, it wouldn’t cover the shortfall altogether, partly because benefits are keyed to income. The higher the income subject to payroll tax, the higher the benefits paid out later to high earners (although not as much as the extra amount they put in), reducing the potential savings to the system.

If You Don’t Claim Benefits Early, You Risk Not Getting Your Fair Share

If you claim benefits as soon as you’re eligible, at 62, you get a 25% to 30% reduction in your benefit compared with what you’d get at full retirement age (66 for people born between 1943 and 1954; 67 for those born in 1960 and later). For every year you wait to take it after full retirement age, until you reach age 70, you get an 8% boost in benefits. Social Security actuaries calculate benefits with the goal of equalizing the total amount you get over your life expectancy whether you take benefits early, at full retirement age or at age 70. If you die before you reach your life expectancy, you won’t get your “fair” share regardless of when you claim Social Security. If you live longer than your life expectancy, you’ll get more than your allotted amount.

Fair or not, if you have reason to believe you won’t reach your life expectancy, you might as well take the benefit early and enjoy the money. If you think you’ll live well beyond your expected lifetime, you may be better off waiting until 70 because the bigger benefits over time will add up to much more than if you collected earlier, for a lower amount.

If You Take Social Security and Keep Working, You Must Give Back Most of Your Benefits

It’s true that Social Security beneficiaries younger than full retirement (currently 66) who keep working and earn more than the cap—$15,720 in 2016—lose $1 in benefits for every $2 they earn over that cap. But this rule, known as the earnings test, eases in the year you reach full retirement age. In that year, you give up $1 for every $3 you earn over a much larger cap—$41,880 in 2016—before the month you reach your full retirement age. Starting in the month of your birthday, there’s no limit on how much you can earn. Better yet, Social Security will adjust your benefits going forward with the goal of insuring that, over your life expectancy, you’ll be repaid every dime you lost to the earnings test.

Once You Start Taking Social Security, You Can’t Change Your Mind

Actually, you can, in a couple of circumstances.

Here’s the first scenario. Say you file for benefits at 62, when you first become eligible. Because you’re claiming before full retirement age (now 66), you get a 25% lifetime reduction in benefits. Then you get a windfall and no longer need the money. If you withdraw your application within the first 12 months of filing, you can pay back the benefits you’ve received, interest-free, and erase the 25% reduction. When you finally do claim benefits, you get whatever you’re due at the age you apply.

The second scenario: After claiming benefits early, you can ask Social Security to suspend your benefits once you reach full retirement age, up to age 70. You don’t have to pay back the benefits, but neither do you erase the fact you claimed early. Your future benefits will still start from a lower base, but that base can be pumped up by the 8%-a-year delayed-retirement credits you earn after age 66. So, while claiming at 62 cuts your benefits to 75% of the age 66 level, adding four years’ worth of delayed-retirement credits (32%) puts your age 70 benefit at 99% of your full retirement age check.

To learn more about either strategy, contact your local Social Security office and ask how to withdraw your application or suspend your benefit. Be aware that if you’re already enrolled in Medicare Part B, you’ll be billed for premiums that otherwise would have been subtracted from your Social Security paycheck.

Get ready for the mother of all stock market corrections once central banks cease their money printing

dow-2007-2016My Comments: The evidence is almost compelling. Compare this chart with the one I posted yesterday. If you are not on the sidelines, or positioned to go short at a moments notice, prepare for some pain.

by Jeremy Warner | September 20, 2016 | The Telegraph

Global stock and bond markets have been all over the place of late. Rarely have investors been so lacking in conviction. Confusion as to future direction reigns, and with good reason after the spectacular returns of recent years.

For how much longer can stock markets keep delivering? Is there another recession on the way, or to the contrary, is growth likely to surprise positively, underpinning current valuations? Economic turning points are never easy to spot, but right now it’s proving harder than ever.

The immediate cause of all this uncertainty is, however, fairly obvious. It’s the US Federal Reserve again, and quite how far it is prepared to go with the present tightening cycle. Few expect policy makers to act at this week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Even so, a number of its members have once again been making hawkish noises, and another rise in rates by the end of the year is widely anticipated.

Indeed, it is on the face of it quite hard to see how the Fed can avoid such action. Already at 2.3pc, core inflation in the US is trending higher. The US labour market continues to tighten, and money growth, for some a key lead indicator, is strong.

On the stitch in time principle, the Fed ought to be acting now to head off the possibility of over heating further down the line. Policymakers are also desperate to return to some semblance of “normality” after the long, post financial crisis aberration in rates, if only to give themselves room for monetary stimulus when the next downturn does eventually materialise. If there were a recession now, there’s not a lot in the armoury to throw at it.

None the less, the “R” word is once again on many people’s lips. No policymaker would want to raise rates into an impending downturn, even if, historically, they quite frequently seem to make precisely this mistake. Is the Fed about to conform to type, and tip the economy back into recession?

According to Chris Watling, chief market strategist at Longview Economics, a wide range of indicators confirm the message: recession risks are rising. And if a recession is indeed looming, it almost certainly means a bear market in equities. Looking at all the US recessions of the last 77 years, Mr Watling finds that there is only one (1945) which has not been accompanied by a stock market correction.

Complicating matters further is an ever more worrisome phenomenon – that both bond and equity markets are being artificially propped up by central bank money printing. Further easing this week from the Bank of Japan would only deepen the problem. Yet eventually it must end, and when it does, share prices globally will return to earth with a bump. Only lack of alternatives for today’s ever rising wall of money seems to hold them aloft.

Over the last year, central bank manipulation of markets has reached ludicrous levels, far beyond the “quantitative easing” used to mitigate the early stages of the crisis. Through long use, “unconventional monetary policy” of the original sort has become ineffective, and, well, simply conventional in nature.

To get pushback, central banks have been straying ever further onto the wild-west frontiers of monetary policy. Today it’s not just government bonds which are being bought up by the lorry load, but corporate debt, and in the case of the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank (SNB), even high risk equities.

Never mind the national debt, much of which is already on the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) balance sheet, the Japanese central bank is steadily nationalising the Japanese stock market too. According to estimates compiled by Bloomberg from the central bank’s exchange traded fund holdings, the BoJ is on course to become the top shareholder in 55 of Japan’s biggest companies by the end of next year.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, the SNB now owns $1.5bn of shares in Facebook and is one of the biggest shareholders in Apple. Meanwhile, both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank have announced massive corporate bond buying programmes, including, in the BoE’s case the sterling bonds of the aforementioned Apple. Quite how that’s meant to benefit the UK economy is anyone’s guess.

For global corporations at least, credit has never been so free and easy, encouraging aggressive share buy-back programmes. This in turn further inflates valuations already in danger of losing all touch with underlying fundamentals. By the by, it also helps trigger lucrative executive bonus awards.

Where’s the real earnings and productivity growth to justify the present state of stock markets? As long as the central bank is there to do the dirty work, it scarcely seems to matter.

In any case, the situation seems ever more precarious and unsustainable. Conventional pricing signals have all but disappeared, swept away by a tsunami of newly created money. Globally, the misallocation of capital must already be on a par with what happened in the run-up to the financial crisis, and possibly worse given the continued build-up of debt since then.

So what could come along to upset this already highly unstable apple cart? Too hasty a monetary tightening by the Fed would certain do it. The Fed doesn’t want to risk a repeat of the so-called “taper tantrum” of 2013, when it was forced into retreat from monetary tightening by an adverse market reaction.

Something similar may already be underway today. Financial conditions have tightened considerably since the summer; the dollar has strengthened, stocks have sold off, at least in the US, and bond yields have risen.

The pattern is a familiar one, in which markets tighten by just enough to deter central bankers from actually going through with the deed and lifting rates. It proved hard enough for the Fed to cease QE. Raising rates by a quarter of a point from zero proved equally long winded and traumatic.

Raising them further may be just as taxing. Every time the Fed hints at doing so, markets counter by threatening to tip the economy back into recession. It’s a brutal tread mill that policy makers have made for themselves; getting off without breaking a leg is proving hard to impossible.

Both main US presidential candidates promise fiscal stimulus should they win. China is also set on a path of fiscal easing, at least for now, while even in Britain there is some possibility of fiscal expansion in response to the Brexit vote. This may ease the path of future interest rate increases somewhat. Unwise to count on it, though.

5 Tips to Increase Your Social Security Check

SSA-image-3My Comments: It may be too late to make changes, but if signing up for Social Security benefits is still on your horizon, some of this WILL help you. (Are you listening Eric?)


By Richard Best | August 16, 2016

When Social Security was introduced in 1935, it was never intended to be a primary income source that could support people in retirement. Rather, its sole purpose was to provide a safety net for people who were unable to accumulate sufficient retirement savings. For the next seven decades, the majority of Americans never gave much thought to their Social Security because of shorter life spans and a reliance on guaranteed pensions. Today, an increasing number of people are starting to pay attention to their benefits, and Social Security planning is becoming a vital element in securing lifetime income sufficiency. Although there are many planning options for receiving Social Security benefits, they can be complex and only apply to certain circumstances. At a minimum, these are some planning tips that everyone should follow in order to increase the size of their Social Security checks.

Work the Full 35 Years

The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your final benefit amount based on your lifetime earnings covering your highest 35 years of work history. The SSA totals your earnings of your highest 35 years and averages them by using an average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) formula. If you entered the workforce late, or had periods of unemployment, those years will count as zeroes, which will be included in the formula, bringing down the average. Once you have worked 35 years, each additional year of earnings, will replace an earlier year of lower earnings, which will increase the average.

Max Out Earnings Through Full Retirement Age

The SSA calculates your benefit amount based on your earnings, so that the more you earn, the higher your benefit amount will be. Earnings above the annual cap ($118,500 in 2016 and indexed to inflation each year), are left out of the calculation. Your goal should be to maximize your peak earning years, striving to earn at or above the cap. Some pre-retirees look for ways to increase their income, such as taking on part-time work or generating business income. Unaware of the impact on benefits, some pre-retirees scale back on their work or semi-retire, which can lower their Social Security income.

Delay Benefits

Most people know their full retirement age (FRA) – the Social Security age at which they can receive their full Social Security benefits. For most people retiring today, the FRA age is 66. But very few people know that if they delay their Social Security benefits until after they reach FRA, they can effectively earn an 8% annual return on their available benefits. The benefit amount increases by 8% each year that it is delayed until age 70. That is based on the delayed retirement credits (DRCs) earned for each year that you delay your Social Security benefits.

For example, if you are eligible for a primary insurance amount (PIA) of $2,000, or $24,000, at age 66, then by waiting until age 70, your annual benefit would increase to $31,680. In cumulative terms, you would increase your total benefits from $378,000 received by your life expectancy at age 82 to $411,000.

This example doesn’t account for cost of living adjustments (COLAs). Assuming a 2.5% COLA, your delayed benefit would grow to $38,599 and your total benefit amount would increase to $584,000 by age 82.

Claim Spousal Benefits Early

If you and your spouse are 62 years of age or over, one of you can claim spousal benefits while the other delays benefits until age 70. The spouse receiving spousal benefits can then switch to full benefits after attaining FRA. To be eligible, you must have been married for at least 10 years to your spouse or ex-spouse (whoever is to receive the benefit). This option works best where one spouse earned more money than the other, because the spousal benefit amount is based on half of the full benefit amount of the higher-earning spouse.

Avoid Social Security Tax

If you are planning on supplementing your retirement income by working after you start receiving Social Security benefits, then you need to be aware of the tax consequences. Anywhere from 50 to 85% of benefit payment can be subject to federal taxes. To determine how much of your benefits will be taxed, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will add your nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security income to your adjusted gross income (AGI). If that total amounts to $25,000 to $34,000 for single filers, or $32,000 to $44,000 for joint filers, up to 50% of your Social Security income is subject to tax. When that amount exceeds $34,000 for a single filer or $44,000 for joint filers, up to 85% of your benefits is subject to taxes. You can possibly avoid paying taxes on your Social Security income by considering ways to spread out your income from various sources so as to prevent any increases that could trigger a higher tax.

Extremely Rare Volatility Signal Says A Big S&P 500 Move May Be Coming

bear-market--My Comments: More potential woe and gloom for those with money in the markets. Will it happen today? It may have started last Friday, but who knows.

There are a lot of charts shown which I’ve elected not to include here. Instead I’m giving you a link at the bottom so you can follow it yourself and see what the author is talking about.

There are competing metrics for guessing the markets; fundamental and technical. Neither is right all the time; it is instead a different philosophy of choosing how best to respond to changes on any given day. This one is from the technical camp.

I’m encouraging all clients to put their investments either in cash or on a platform that allows an inverse position that typically makes money in a downturn. It’s your call.

Big Moves Often Follow

Regular viewers of CCM’s weekly videos may be familiar with the expression “the longer a market goes sideways, the bigger the move you tend to get after a breakout or breakdown”, which aligns with the concept of periods of low volatility often being followed by big moves in asset prices.

Lowest Level Dating Back To 1982

Bollinger band width is one way to track relative volatility. When Bollinger band width readings hit extremely low levels, it tells us to be open to a big move. The S&P 500’s daily Bollinger Band width has never been lower than it is today, using data back to 1982, which means a big move could be coming soon in stocks.