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Greece is the Word

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In recent weeks, the world’s markets and media financial pages have focused intensely on the standoff between debt-laden Greece and its international lenders over the conditions of any further bailout. For investors everywhere, both of the large institutional kind and individual participants, the story has been fast-paced and difficult to keep up with. More importantly,…

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401(k) Loans: Pros and Cons

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You’re looking for a quick source of money, either to pay down debt or for emergency cash needs. At first glance, your 401(k) account might look like a tempting source for a short-term loan. To be sure, borrowing against your 401(k) has advantages over many other type of loans. Loan rates tend to be low,…

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Retirement Investment Myths

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As with most other complicated topics, retirement investing comes with a set of overly simplified, generally accepted rules, many of which are wrong at best, disastrous to your portfolio at worst. Adapted from a recent ThinkAdvisor article (and expanded upon), here are some of the more common (and erroneous) beliefs about retirement investing: You have…

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T.D. Ameritrade AdvisorClient Mobile App

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If you have a T.D. Ameritrade account managed by Northstar and an iPhone, you now have the ability to view your real-time account balance, positions and transaction history on your phone. Other convenient features include: Remote check deposit (take a picture of the front and back of the check with your phone and it will…

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Tax Planning: Low-Basis Assets

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In converting new clients’ investments to low-cost, highly diversified portfolios, we usually need to liquidate some or all of the clients’ existing assets, which often times results in realization of capital gains. In plain English, sometimes setting up a new account leads to a big tax bill. While tax minimization is an important goal in…

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All-Terrain Investing

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Owners of all-purpose motor vehicles often appreciate their cars most when they leave smooth city freeways for rough gravel country roads. In investment, highly diversified portfolios can provide similar reassurance. In blue skies and open highways, flimsy city sedans might cruise along just as well as sturdier sports utility vehicles. But the real test occurs when…

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What Kids Can Teach You About Fianance

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Many times the best advice is the simplest advice, and who better to dispense simple wisdom than children? Adapted from Navy Federal Credit Union’s website and an article on wisebread.com, here are ten important financial lessons you can learn from walking a mile in your kids’ light-up roller sneakers. Use your imagination. You can spend…

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Active Investing: 2014 Report Card

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Standard & Poor’s recently released their semi-annual SPIVA Scorecard, which reports on results for actively managed funds, which includes all funds that rely on market timing, stock selection and sector rotation. The full year 2014 results are, as expected, bad. Unexpectedly, they are really, really bad. U.S. Stock Funds: More than 87% of all domestic…

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The Problem with Income Investing

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I’ve written many times on these pages about the conventional wisdom of creating a retirement portfolio designed to generate income, through interest and dividends.  I find this strategy, while thoroughly conventional, isn’t exactly wise. Just last month, I wrote about investors being far too conservative, particularly young investors who have many years to weather short-term…

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Discipline – The Final Principle

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A 54-year-old couple finally gets their last child out of college, has their mortgage paid off and begins the final run to retirement, about a dozen years down the road. They have diligently set up a beautifully diversified investment account of equity and bond funds and they set up automatic payments into the account, harnessing…

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The Risk of Being Conservative

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Conventional wisdom used to hold that the common “do-it-yourself” investor tends to invest too aggressively, and take on unnecessary risk, usually through lack of diversification or overinvesting in complicated, illiquid or risky investments like derivatives, real estate or limited partnerships. For many investors, the decision to hire a financial advisor would be a step toward…

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MasterChef of Investing

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In the popular TV program MasterChef, contestants face a series of cooking challenges. From low quality ingredients to inadequate preparation and poor implementation, so many things can, and do, go wrong. It’s a bit like investing. In the world of investment, there customarily are two broad approaches. The first is a traditionally active one: Managers…

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