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5 Quick Personal Finance Tips for Recent Graduates

5 Quick Personal Finance Tips for Recent Graduates
By: Brittany Mollica You’ve finally gotten your degree and landed your first adult job – congrats! Entering the “real world” can be overwhelming; between starting a new job, navigating a new city and making new friends, dedicating time to think about your financial situation might be low on the priority list. However, the sooner you can take a proactive approach to your personal finance, the better. As a recent college graduate myself (Go Heels!) and a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional, I can affirm that these 5 quick tips will help you get started in the right direction: Read your employee benefits handbook – While it may be tempting to just skim through the details of your employee benefits, it is extremely rewarding to have a good understanding of your benefits. For example – how many days of paid vacation do you get? Are you allowed to take extra time off to go volunteer? Does your employer match your contributions to your 401(k) plan? Do they off ...

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Changes You Need to Know – Decoding the Tax Law

Changes You Need to Know – Decoding the Tax Law
By: Chris Hostetler You know the income tax code has changed for 2018, and you may have a vague idea of the impact to your situation.  Most taxpayers are getting offsetting doses of positive and negative adjustments, and it is time to start thinking about some of the details and the planning implications. To help our clients start thinking about their personal situations, we hosted an educational event a few weeks ago to highlight some of the major changes in the new tax code.  In today’s post, we have a brief recap of the presentation for those who weren’t able to join us.  (This will also help those who attended but were too focused on the appetizers and mint juleps to pay attention.) First off, much thanks to our presenter, Tyler De Haan, Director of Retirement Services at Principal Financial Group.  Tyler compiled and presented this information at our request. And to get the ever-important caveat out of the way – we are NOT tax advisors or CPAs.  We e ...

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Hilltop Market Update 2nd Quarter 2018

Hilltop Market Update 2nd Quarter 2018
  Hilltop Market Update, May 2018 Video Transcript David Wise (DW): Hello, and welcome to Hilltop Wealth Advisors’ 2nd Quarterly Market Update and Outlook.  I’m David Wise and with me today is Ben Yeager. Ben Yeager (BY): Thanks, Dave.  Glad to be here. DW: So, our last update came in the middle of the stock market correction that we saw in February, where the S&P 500 actually dropped 10% from its peak and I think it is easy for us to forget that prior to that for 24 months straight, we had really solid smooth markets. The volatility that we’ve seen has been persistent and Chris and Rusty, I think, did a good job of highlighting that last time in our quarterly update.  We think that is going to remain present going forward and that’s coming particularly from some of the headlines that we’ve seen around trade wars and interest rate increases with the Fed and that’s having a pretty large role in performance year to date.&n ...

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Spring Cleaning for Your Personal Finances

Spring Cleaning for Your Personal Finances
By: Chris Hostetler and Kali Whitaker You’ve cleaned out the garage and straightened your closet, but when was the last time you organized something that truly mattered? Too many of us accumulate the debris of one-time financial decisions and never clean up: an old 401(k) that you haven’t rebalanced in years, 15-year-old tax documents sitting in your desk drawer, a permanent life insurance policy that hasn’t been properly funded and the list goes on… The good news for you financial hoarders is that with a few simple steps you can do away with a lot of the clutter. Here are some ideas to get you started: Check your credit – Most people check their credit when applying for a loan or when there’s an incident, such as the 2017 Equifax data breach. But taking a periodic look at your credit reports, spending just a few minutes a few times a year, you can prevent big headaches with an early catch of any misreported accounts or identity theft. For tips on how to monito ...

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Hilltop’s Favorite Spring Happenings in the Triangle

Hilltop’s Favorite Spring Happenings in the Triangle
By: Kali Whitaker It’s easy to understand why spring is a favorite season for many North Carolinians. Flowers are blooming, temperatures are {mostly} temperate, and there’s no shortage of fun events to enjoy with friends and family. To help you fill your spring weekends, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite events going on across the Triangle this season: Pittsboro, Saturdays Visit The Belted Goat at The Fearrington Inn on Saturdays at 3pm for a free wine tasting. The Goat is Fearrington Village’s personal wine and coffee shop and boasts knowledgeable and helpful sommeliers who will hand-select wines for the tasting and guide you through choosing the perfect bottle to take home to enjoy. Raleigh, April 7th Enjoy the spring beauty of the JC Raulston Arboretum at the Raulston Blooms Festival from 9 am to 4 pm. At only $10 per family (free for JCRA members), there’s no excuse not to enjoy unique food trucks, local artisans and more! You can also spruce up yo ...

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A Brief Homeowner’s Guide to Tax Reform – Decoding the Tax Law

A Brief Homeowner’s Guide to Tax Reform – Decoding the Tax Law
By: Chris Hostetler Happy home listing season!  It is almost Spring, which brings yard work, allergies, and real estate open houses.  If you’re looking to buy a new home or improve your current home, there are some things you should know about the new tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which goes into effect for the 2018 tax year.  In fact, the law may affect you as a homeowner, even if you aren’t making any changes to your address or spending money to renovate the place. First, the usual caveat - consult with your tax advisor to better understand how the updates will affect your unique situation.  Now, here are some of the changes: An increase in the standard deduction – Although this isn’t a homeowner’s issue per se, it affects many homeowners who were previously taking itemized deductions.  The standard deduction is basically doubled, so the deductibility of mortgage interest is no longer of value for some people.  As an example, if y ...

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Hilltop Market Update, February 2018

Hilltop Market Update, February 2018
  The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. Indexes are unmanaged and do not incur management fees, costs, or expenses.  It is not possible to invest directly in an index.    Video Transcript: Chris: Hi there. Welcome to the Hilltop Wealth Advisors’ Market Update and Outlook for the first quarter of 2018. I’m Chris Hostetler and with me today is Rusty Eriksen. Thanks for being with me Rusty. Rusty: Glad to be here, Chris. Chris: So, we were just wrapping up our quarterly investment outlook meeting a couple of weeks ago and remarking that we have seen a pretty good run in the markets lately. Fixed income investments were somewhat flat in 2017 but stock markets in both the U.S. and abroad had a pretty good run. It was a good year across the board, wasn’t it? Rusty: It was and when we were talking with the different economists and ...

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Durham’s Legacy as “Black Wall Street” Continues to Shape Lives Today

Durham’s Legacy as “Black Wall Street” Continues to Shape Lives Today
By: Mya Reeves (with Chris Hostetler and Kali Whitaker)   A diverse, growing city with great food and inspiring arts, Durham, North Carolina, has a proud heritage as an economic powerhouse for black-owned businesses.  Many of the institutions and traditions that took root more than a hundred years ago are still shaping business activity and lives, including mine.  “Black Wall Street,” a term coined by Booker T. Washington, describes the vast business developments on Parrish Street in the early 1900s. Located north of the Hayti Community, one of Durham’s largest African-American communities, Black Wall Street became a center of black life in Durham.  John Merrick, one of the primary founders of NC Mutual Life Insurance Co. What we know of Durham today is a mosaic of institutions that sprung from the innovation and entrepreneurship of Black Wall Street’s leaders, many of whom were born as slaves.  At a time when most black people struggled to r ...

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Changes Coming to a Paycheck Near You - Decoding the Tax Law

Changes Coming to a Paycheck Near You - Decoding the Tax Law
By: Chris Hostetler and Kali Whitaker   By now, we all know that the tax code has changed significantly starting in 2018, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress just before Christmas. Although there is no shortage of published information about the details of the new code, the dust is only now beginning to settle so that we can understand actual impacts on individual situations. It is going to take some time for planners and accountants to regain fluency in tax planning strategies. As the largest tax overhaul since 1986, this is a monumental change – some might say HUGE.  And it happened very quickly – the act was introduced on Nov 2, 2017 by Representative Kevin Brady of Texas and signed by the President on December 22. Throughout the year, as we dig into what these changes mean, we hope to share a series of posts on the likely impacts to our clients’ planning and thoughts on some new tax strategies to consider, as well as some old tax strategies that m ...

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New Year, New Goals

OK, we’re a week into the new year.  Have you already cheated on your resolutions?  We aren’t encouraging you to give up, but if you’d like to add some new resolutions – ones that would make your financial advisor proud – we have a few ideas.  In 2018, why not skip the line for the Stairmaster and at The Container Store; instead try our accessible, yet impactful ideas for re-resolving to make 2018 a great year. Rusty Resolve to eliminate stock certificates!  While the aesthetics may appeal to some, you’ll avoid potential headaches if you deposit those certificate shares into your brokerage account.  I’ve been working with a client for 4 years trying to recover shares his now deceased wife owned in certificate form.  The shares were originally for a small North Carolina bank which subsequently was part of several mergers and is now Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).  And because RBC is a Canadian company, there are additional hurdle ...

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