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Northstar’s Reading List

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By Mia Kitner Reading a good book can lower your stress and improve your focus, and studies have shown that the habit can improve your short-term and long-term memory. While these benefits have probably been known for some time now, we still struggle to find the time to read more.   With the holidays fast approaching,…

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Your Year-End Financial Checklist

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By Steve Tepper, CFP®, MBA This month we once again give you our annual reprint of a handy financial checklist. So here are a few things to think about in between tree decorating, light untangling, and latke frying: Employer-Sponsored Retirement Accounts: In order to take a deduction for contributions to an employer-sponsored plan such as a…

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Wealth Management: So Much More Than Just Investment Consulting

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By Allen Giese, ChFC®, CLU® So there’s a lot of advisors out there these days calling themselves “wealth managers.” What is a wealth manager, and how is it any different than a financial advisor or a broker? I think if you asked most people, even most financial advisors, they’d be hard-pressed to tell you what…

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Pet Projects

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By Steve Tepper, CFP®, MBA If you are inclined to spend money like the rich, famous, and ultra-affluent, here are some ideas: Louis Vuitton offers a monogrammed carry sack for $2,550. From Versace, you can get a 22K gold-leafed bowl for $1,128. And Michels VIP Parfums carries a range of fragrances from $180 to $4,800.…

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Cybersecurity, Identity Theft, and What We Should All Know

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By Mia Kitner By now it’s not news that cybersecurity concerns have taken center stage in the country. Equifax, one of the three leading credit reporting agencies in the U.S., has admitted that they were hacked around May–July and that personal information of more than 145 million Americans had been compromised. Sadly, as alarming as…

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The Emerging Market Bounce

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By Steve Tepper, CFP®, MBA You’d have to be a little crazy to invest in emerging markets right now. There are so many problems in the second and third world, they could hardly all be listed in this short article. But here are a few key drivers of expected weakness outside of the U.S. and…

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Is Your Advisor a Fiduciary?

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By Allen Giese, ChFC®, CLU® Look, there are lots of advisors out there to pick from. And there are lots of differences between them. But if there is one thing that separates them more than anything else, one thing that tells you who may really have your best interest at heart, what would that be?…

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The Retirement Savings Gap: Bleak and Getting Bleaker

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By Steve Tepper, CFP®, MBA It should come as no surprise to readers of our newsletter that most people have not saved enough for retirement. We reported several years ago that about 57% of baby boomers would run out of money within 20 years of retirement according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). I…

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Cybersecurity Best Practices

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The WannaCry ransomware attack last month affected individuals and businesses in more than 150 countries and infected more than 230,000 computers. It illustrated yet again the need for everyone using any device connected to the internet to employ best security practices at all times. Ransomware occurs when malicious software is installed on a computer, encrypting…

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FRS Pension Option 1 with Life Insurance: Good Idea?

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By Allen Giese, ChFC®, CLU® Here’s a concept that if you’re an FRS special risk employee approaching retirement, I’ll bet you’ve heard. The idea is, if you’re married, you choose Option 1 for your pension. That’s the option where if you die before your spouse, then your spouse gets no continuation of benefits—they get nothing.…

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The Talk Every Adult Should Have with Their Parents

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By Mia Kitner Let’s talk about “the talk.” It’s the talk with our parents that we as adult children tend to avoid—sometimes out of fear and other times because it is, simply put, difficult. The thoughts that may race through our minds tend to revolve around “Will they think I am being greedy?” or “I…

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Social Security for Divorcees

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By Steve Tepper, CFP®, MBA Spousal benefits are an important part of Social Security, and for many people, those benefits are still available even after divorce. While rules on spousal benefits for married couples are pretty well known to retirees and those retiring imminently, spousal benefits for divorcees are not as well known. The spousal…

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