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79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Gifting Strategies

    Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different gifting strategies available for planned giving.

  • Property Ownership

    Sole ownership, joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and community property have special benefits for property owners.

Retirement

  • IRA Rollover

    If you leave a job or retire, you should consider your options regarding your employer retirement plan assets.

  • 403(b) Plans

    A 403(b) plan is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan that can only be offered by a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity.

  • Why Purchase Annuities

    Annuities, an insurance-based financial vehicle, can provide many benefits that retirement investors might want.

  • How Much Do I Need to Save?

    Many realize it’s important to save for retirement, but knowing exactly how much to save is another issue altogether.

  • Planning Options

    There are a variety of retirement planning options that could help meet your needs. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Save Now or Save Later

    If you start saving for retirement sooner, the more money you are likely to accumulate and possibly retire sooner.

Tax Planning

  • Capital Gain Tax

    Capital gains are profits realized from the sale of assets; a tax is triggered only when an asset is sold, not held.

  • Estate Tax

    Everything you own, whatever the form of ownership, is subject to federal, and possibly state, estate taxes.

  • Gift Tax

    The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living.

  • Retirement Plan Limits

    IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are subject to annual contribution limits set by the federal government.

  • Required Minimum Distributions

    Required minimum distribution is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a qualified retirement plan/account.

  • Charitable Trust Tax Benefits

    For the grantor, there are a few potential tax benefits that can come with setting up a charitable trust.

  • Retirement Plan Taxes

    With traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn.

  • Withdrawing Before Age 59.5

    Tax-deferred retirement account withdrawals before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty.

  • Tax Deferral

    There can be a substantial benefit to deferring taxes as long as possible.

  • Tax Deductions

    Changes to the tax code have left a few key deductions for itemizers, like medical, dental and some business expenses.

  • Tax-Advantaged Alternatives

    While stable, CDs can create quite an income tax bill. Fixed annuities and municipal bonds can offer tax advantages.

  • Tax Strategies for Retirement Plans

    Consider a trustee-to-trustee transfer to an IRA versus a lump-sum distribution from a workplace retirement plan.

  • Tax-Free Investments

    It’s important to understand tax-exempt vehicles when establishing a comprehensive tax planning strategy.

  • Mutual Fund Profits

    Want to keep more of your mutual fund profits? You may be interested in strategies to help lower your tax liability.

  • Tax-Free Insurance Upgrades

    A 1035 exchange allows you to exchange your life insurance policy for one from another company without tax liability.

Investing

  • Mutual Funds vs. Stocks

    The difference between purchasing an individual stock versus shares in a mutual fund to potentially earn dividends.

  • Closed-End Funds

    With closed-end funds, investors pool their money together to purchase a professionally managed portfolio of stocks and/or bonds.

Cash Management

  • Cash Management Basics

    A sound cash management program uses a disciplined approach: accounting, analysis, allocation, and adjustment.

  • Doubling Your Money

    Before making investment decisions, it is helpful to determine the real rate of return on the investment.

  • Cash Management Tools

    Short-term cash management instruments can help you establish a sound cash management program.

  • Money Market Funds

    Money market funds can be a highly liquid and effective cash management tool.

  • Managing Cash

    There are numerous investment alternatives available to help provide liquidity.

  • Biweekly Mortgages

    Biweekly mortgage payments can have a dramatic effect on the amount of interest homeowners have to pay.

  • Reverse Mortgages

    There are techniques that can enable older homeowners to use their property to finance their lifestyle.

  • Smart Financing Ideas

    Here are some smart ways to refinance your home.

  • College Financial Aid

    It's important to understand the options, such as financial aid grant programs, when having to pay for college.

  • Savings Alternatives

    There are a number of savings alternatives that could help you earn a reasonable rate of return.

  • Effects of Inflation

    Historically, one of the best ways to fight the effects of inflation has been to utilize growth-oriented investments.

  • Home Equity Loans

    Shifting some debt to a home equity loan, which typically allows interest payments to be tax deductible, could have its advantages.

Risk Management

  • Business Owner Policies

    A business owner policy is an insurance package that assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Whole Life Insurance

    Some of the pros and cons of whole life insurance.

  • Universal Life Insurance

    Consider a universal life insurance policy if you want the flexibility to change your premium or death benefit.

  • Variable Life Insurance

    Variable life insurance gives you the control to allocate your account value among a variety of investment options.

  • Auto Insurance

    Even if your state doesn’t require certain types of auto insurance, it may be wise to purchase multiple types to ensure you are covered for a variety of situations.

  • Insurance Claims

    When it is time to make an insurance claim, it helps if you are familiar with your policies and the steps you should take to file a claim.

  • Maximizing Your Insurance Benefits

    Several factors could undermine the financial security provided by the proceeds of your life insurance policy.

  • Insuring Your Future

    To help you choose insurance wisely, determine how much coverage and what kind of policy is best for your situation.

  • Protecting Your Home

    Since your home is one of your greatest assets, you should make sure it is adequately protected. That's where homeowners insurance enters the picture.

  • Assessing Disability Income Insurance

    Knowing the basics of a disability income insurance policy is a good first step toward protecting your family.

  • Types of Health Coverage

    There are three basic types of medical insurance plans: fee-for-service, managed care, and high-deductible health plan.

  • Additional Liability Coverage

    Consider additional liability insurance to help protect you from the potentially devastating effects of liability lawsuits.

  • HMOs and PPOs

    Selecting health insurance is often one of the most important decisions you will make. Do you know the different types?

  • Evaluating Insurance Companies

    Using a financially sound insurance company is an important part of ensuring your family’s financial security.

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.

  • Medicare Coverage

    Medicare is the federal health insurance program for those persons age 65 and over. But what does it cover?

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