ARK Wealth Insights

Employee Benefits for Special Circumstances

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 22, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Employee Benefits for Special Circumstances

Most competitive employee benefit packages provide retirement, vacation, health, vision, dental, basic life, and disability insurance benefits, yet business owners might also consider additional programs to grab the attention of potential new hires. Fortunately, there are many benefit programs available, covering a variety of special circumstances, that can help round out and differentiate your offerings.

Many benefit programs offer tax advantages to both you and your employees. Even programs that may not offer a deduction could help lower your taxable payroll and therefore reduce payments to Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment insurance.

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Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage or Invest?

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 20, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage or Invest?

Owning a home outright is a dream that many Americans share. Having a mortgage can be a huge burden, and paying it off may be the first item on your financial to-do list. But competing with the desire to own your home free and clear is your need to invest for retirement, your child's college education, or some other goal. Putting extra cash toward one of these goals may mean sacrificing another. So how do you choose?

Evaluating the opportunity cost

Deciding between prepaying your mortgage and investing your extra cash isn't easy, because each option has advantages and disadvantages. But you can start by weighing what you'll gain financially by choosing one option against what you'll give up. In economic terms, this is known as evaluating the opportunity cost.

Here's an example. Let's assume that you have a $300,000 balance and 20 years remaining on your 30-year mortgage, and you're paying 6.25% interest. If you were to put an extra $400 toward your mortgage each month, you would save approximately $62,000 in interest, and pay off your loan almost 6 years early.

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Topics: Financial Planning, Economy & Investing

Women: Moving Forward Financially after the Loss of a Spouse

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 15, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Women: Moving Forward Financially after the Loss of a Spouse

The loss of a spouse can be a devastating, life-changing event. Due to longer life expectancies, women are more likely to face this situation.

Becoming a widow at any age can be one of the most difficult challenges a woman must face. Not only is there the emotional loss of a spouse, but also the task of handling everything — including all the finances — without the help of a spouse. Even if you've always handled your family's finances, the number of financial and legal matters that have to be settled in the weeks and months following your loved one's death can be overwhelming.

Sadly, for many women, becoming a widow is a first step toward economic hardship. That's why it's critical for you to organize your finances after your spouse's death and take ongoing steps to secure your financial future and that of your family.

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Topics: Women and Investing

Planning for Incapacity in Retirement

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 13, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Planning for Incapacity

What would happen if you were mentally or physically unable to take care of yourself or your day-to-day affairs? You might not be able to make sound decisions about your health or finances. You could lose the ability to pay bills, write checks, make deposits, sell assets, or otherwise conduct your affairs. Unless you're prepared, incapacity could devastate your family, exhaust your savings, and undermine your financial, tax, and estate planning strategies. Planning ahead can ensure that your health-care wishes will be carried out, and that your finances will continue to be competently managed.

It could happen to you

Incapacity can strike anyone at any time. Advancing age can bring senility, Alzheimer's disease, or other ailments, and a serious illness or accident can happen suddenly at any age. Even with today's medical miracles, it's a real possibility that you or your spouse could become incapable of handling your own medical or financial affairs.

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Topics: Estate Planning, Retirement

Concentrated Stock Positions: Considerations for Retirement

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 8, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Concentrated Stock Positions: Considerations and Strategies

Whether you inherited a large holding, exercised options to buy your company's stock, sold a private business, hold restricted stock, or have benefitted from repeated stock splits over the years, having a large position in a single stock carries unique challenges. Even if the stock has done well, you may want more diversification, or have new financial goals that require a shift in strategy.

When a single stock dominates your portfolio, however, selling the stock may be complicated by more than just the associated tax consequences. There also may be legal constraints on your ability to sell, contractual obligations such as lock-up agreements, or practical considerations, such as the possibility that a large sale could overwhelm the market for a thinly traded stock. The choices appropriate for you are complex and will depend on your own situation and tax considerations, but here is a brief overview of some of your options.

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Topics: Financial Planning, Retirement

Paying the Bills: Potential Sources of Retirement Income

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 6, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Paying the Bills: Potential Sources of Retirement Income

Planning your retirement income is like putting together a puzzle with many different pieces. One of the first steps in the process is to identify all potential income sources and estimate how much you can expect each one to provide.

Social Security

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), nearly 9 of 10 people aged 65 or older receive Social Security benefits. However, most retirees also rely on other sources of income.

For a rough estimate of the annual benefit to which you would be entitled at various retirement ages, you can use the calculator on the Social Security website, www.ssa.gov. Your Social Security retirement benefit is calculated using a formula that takes into account your 35 highest earnings years. How much you receive ultimately depends on a number of factors, including when you start taking benefits. You can begin doing so as

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Topics: Financial Planning, Retirement

Pay Down Your Debt or Save for Retirement?

Posted by Matthew_Hanshaw-CFP on Feb 1, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Pay Down Debt or Save for Retirement?

You can use a variety of strategies to pay off debt, many of which can cut not only the amount of time it will take to pay off the debt but also the total interest paid. But like many people, you may be torn between paying off debt and the need to save for retirement. Both are important; both can help give you a more secure future. If you're not sure you can afford to tackle both at the same time, which should you choose?

There's no one answer that's right for everyone, but here are some of the factors you should consider when making your decision.

Rate of investment return versus interest rate on debt

Probably the most common way to decide whether to pay off debt or to make investments is to consider whether you could earn a higher after-tax rate of return by investing than the after-tax interest rate you pay on the

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Topics: Financial Planning, Retirement

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