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Joseph Slife

Joseph Slife

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Money Roundup: Bitcoin Mania, How to Read Financial News, and More

Here's our latest linkfest:

What is Bitcoin, and how does it work? (The New York Times). As Bitcoin continues to rise at dizzying speed, the NYT offers a newly updated explainer.

Blockchain — The new technology of trust (Goldman Sachs). Still trying to wrap your mind around the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies? This graphics-based primer may help.

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SMI on the Radio: Balancing Family and Work

Holding down a job requires a lot of time and energy. So does raising a family. For many of us, the job wins out — and we end up giving our spouse and children only what's left over.

Today on MoneyWise, SMI Executive Editor Mark Biller suggests practical steps toward ensuring a healthier balance between our family commitments and work obligations.

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Your 10 Most Important Financial Moves for 2018

Here’s our annual round-up of planning suggestions for the new year. Take our broad list of ideas and narrow it down to your personal Top 10 for 2018. As you read, note the ideas that apply to your situation and put a checkmark (in the box) next to each one. Then choose 10 of your checked items to be your 2018 “action list.” We hope the next 12 months will be a season of steady financial progress for you. It can be — if you plan and act.
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Fixed Index Annuities: Understanding the Drawbacks

Imagine an investment with the stock market’s upside potential, but the downside protection of a bank CD. You can gain but not lose. Interested?

That’s the marketing angle of the fixed index annuity (FIA), an insurance-based retirement vehicle that’s grown sharply in popularity during this era of low interest rates and ever-increasing market highs. Sales of FIAs are on track to hit $60 billion this year, according to industry estimates — double the $30 billion in sales racked up in 2009.

But FIA sales pitches — often presented at free “dinner seminars” hosted by persuasive agents — sometimes obscure the impact of both fees and restrictions on earnings, according to government regulators and some industry insiders. “It is important to ask your agent to explicitly define how the product works,” warns Tim Gannon an executive at Fidelity Investments Life Insurance Company. “[You want to] know up front about any factors that could put a drag on your potential return.”

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Wall Street's 2017 Market Predictions:
Pathetically Wrong

The title of this post is borrowed from a James Mackintosh column (behind paywall) in this past Friday's Wall Street Journal.

Excerpts:

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Money Roundup: Do-or-Die for Some Retailers,
Good (Investing) Behavior, and more

Here's the Black Friday edition of the Roundup, our weekly collection of links to worth-reading articles on investing, personal finance, and stewardship:

Black Friday sales boost may not save struggling chains (Commercial Observer). One analyst says "a number of retailers...are facing do-or-die Christmases," possibly including Sears and Toys "R" Us.

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

This classic prayer of thanksgiving is adapted from The Book of Common Prayer:

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Money Roundup: Tax-Free Retirement Income, Gratitude for a Good Year, and More

Here's our heading-into-the-weekend roundup of current articles on investing, money management, and stewardship. Enjoy!

How to get entirely tax-free retirement income (The Wall Street Journal, via Reddit). It's difficult to find a better deal than Health Savings Accounts.

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Healthcare-Sharing Ministries and Medicare

In response to our November-issue article Bridging the Gap: Covering What Medicare Doesn’t Pay, a reader asked for a follow-up piece on “using a Christian health sharing plan as a supplement to Medicare.” We’re happy to oblige.

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Money Roundup: Overhauling the Tax Code, Evidence-Based Investing, and More

Here's our latest linkfest of worthwhile reads on investing, personal finance, and stewardship:

Here are the new tax brackets in the House GOP plan (CNBC). The top rate of 39.6 percent remains, but the bill calls for four income tax brackets instead of the current seven. (An "FAQ" from the House Ways and Means Committee is here in PDF.)

Smart year-end moves to trim your 2017 tax bill (Kiplinger). Why pay more in taxes than you have to? Thinking ahead could save you money.

Why couples should see a financial adviser before they get married (The Wall Street Journal). As the sub-head of the article states, "People's spending habits and other money issues are often overlooked in premarital planning." Yup.

What's your uncertainty/humility score? (Christine Benz, Morningstar). Too often, financial guidance is characterized by a sense of certainty, rather than an appropriate level of humility. The truth is, there are many unknowns.

Investor Alert: Celebrity endorsements (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission). The SEC warns investors not to make investment decisions based solely on celebrity endorsements. Do people really do that?

And from the blogosphere...

Evidence-based investing in 10 words or less (Phil Huber, bps and pieces). Many well-known investors weigh in here, offering their short and sometimes witty definitions of "evidence-based investing" — such as "Works on both a chalkboard and in real life" (Morgan Housel) and "Past performance may be indicative of future probabilities" (Charlie Bilello).

Evaluating the proposed individual tax reforms under the House Republican tax plan (Michael Kitces, Kitces.com). If you're interested in a deeper dive on the House tax plan, here it is.

Best HSA provider for investing HSA money (The Finance Buff). Based on the number of comments we received on Matt's recent post, Health Savings Accounts Grow in Popularity, Benefits Underutilized, HSAs are a hot topic among SMI readers.

How becoming a one-income household can make you better with money (Dave Domzalski, Forbes Bankable). Reduced income forces you to spend more carefully and to become more resourceful. (Also see "We Can’t Live on One Income!" from our May 2017 issue.)

All of the world's money and markets in one visualization (Visual Capitalist). Interesting, and perhaps a bit unsettling.

Your comments about any of the above are welcome. Or tell us about a good article you've read lately. Scroll down a bit and "Join the Discussion." Thanks!

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