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The Yield Curve Inverted – What Should I Do?

The Yield Curve Inverted – What Should I Do?

A commonly cited indicator of recessions, an inverted yield curve, may have presented itself recently.  Here are some smart steps you can take.

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Personal Finance 101 – 5 Steps to Become the Boss of Your Budget

Personal Finance 101 – 5 Steps to Become the Boss of Your Budget

Budgeting does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. It can actually be comforting to know that you have a plan for your money, especially if that includes a regular Starbucks run! To help you get started, here are five simple steps for creating a basic budget.

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Hilltop Market Update 1st Quarter 2019

Hilltop Market Update 1st Quarter 2019

Chris Hostetler and Ben Yeager summarize Hilltop's updates on the equity and income markets, including thoughts on US economic strength, Brexit negotiations, US-China trade negotiations, the Fed's interest rate policy and more.

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A New Deduction for Business Owners - Decoding the Tax Law

A New Deduction for Business Owners - Decoding the Tax Law
By Miles Pfeifer (guest post) I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and are looking forward to the year-end holiday season. If you’re a business owner, Congress has already prepared an exciting ‘gift’ for you, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: a shiny new business tax deduction. For those who qualify, properly taking advantage of these new tax rules may result in substantial tax savings. As part of the new tax laws, effective for income earned in 2018, the IRS has added a new Internal Revenue Code Section 199A, and come up with some ‘exciting’ new terms, most importantly “Qualified Business Income” (QBI) and “Specified Service Trade or Business” (SSTB). As is often the case with Congress and the IRS, the new laws come with instructions. Lots of instructions. The IRS has published its first set of guidance for these new rules, totaling only 184 pages. Don’t worry, more explanations are anticipated. For those brave enough to read on, ...

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Practicing Gratitude for the "Basics"

Practicing Gratitude for the "Basics"
By: Chris Hostetler There was a fascinating report last week from Credit Suisse, which validates something I tell my clients all the time: if you live in the United States, you are probably among the wealthiest people in the world. According to Credit Suisse, a net worth of $93,000 puts you in the top 10% globally. (If you want to see how your net worth stacks up among other Americans, here’s a cool tool built on Federal Reserve data: https://dqydj.com/net-worth-percentile-calculator-united-states/) But if you use this information only as a scorecard to satisfy your inner competitor, then I think you’re missing the point. Instead, think about these numbers and recognize how much you have to be grateful for! The numbers in these studies compare your wealth only to people who are alive in 2018. But think for a minute about what a basic income affords you today. If you have an iPhone and air conditioning and indoor plumbing, your lifestyle would be the envy of kings and queens from just 2 ...

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Hilltop Market Update 4th Quarter 2018

Ben Yeager and Rusty Eriksen provide a summary view of our investment committee’s latest research, sharing our thoughts on market volatility, interest rates and international markets.

Personal Finance 101 – Income Taxes Made Easy … Well, Easier

Personal Finance 101 – Income Taxes Made Easy … Well, Easier
By: Brittany Mollica As a young professional, you may think you’re too busy to learn how your tax return works. Whether you’re new to adulting and filing on your own for the first time or you’ve been filing for a few years and want to actually understand it this time, you don’t need to be intimidated by the 1040. In this post we will give you an overview of Form 1040, explaining the different sections of the form while also giving you some tips so that filing your taxes can be as smooth and painless as possible. Note that all guidelines and numbers included in this article are based on 2018 rules. Section 1: This should be the easiest part – listing your personal information. In this section, you identify yourself, your spouse (if married) and your dependents (if you have any) as well as select your filing status: Single - Fairly self-explanatory. Your household is just you – no spouse or dependents. Married Filing Jointly - This filing status combines ...

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Should You Increase This Year’s Tax Bill? The Case for a Roth Conversion

Should You Increase This Year’s Tax Bill? The Case for a Roth Conversion
By: Chris Hostetler With a long-term view of tax planning, the goal is to reduce tax payments over time, not necessarily this year. It might actually make sense to pay a little extra now if it means you can save more money later. One of the best ways to do this is with a Roth conversion. To understand this strategy, you have to be clear on the different tax treatment between the two main types of IRAs: Traditional IRA – contributions are generally tax deductible, and then growth is tax deferred. You pay taxes when you take money out through a distribution. You can usually begin taking distributions after age 59 ½, but you MUST begin taking yearly Required Minimum Distributions at age 70 ½. Roth IRA – you get NO tax deduction for your contributions. But the account grows tax free, and you can take distributions tax free. Furthermore, you never have to take Required Minimum Distributions during your lifetime – you’re welcome to leave these tax-free funds to yo ...

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Florence is Coming. Be Prepared.

Florence is Coming. Be Prepared.
By Chris Hostetler You've got your water, bread and flashlights ready to go, but what about the documents you may need in case of an emergency? I never recommend panicking, but a little preparation now can save you headaches later. Avoid the paper chase by using our handy document checklist. Natural Disaster Document Checklist Insurance Homeowner's Insurance Policy & Policy Number Flood Insurance Policy & Policy Number Contact Information for Your Insurance Agent Inventory of Valuable Household Goods (including receipts if you have them) Investments Stock and Bond Certificates Financial Account Numbers General Tax Records Birth Certificates Passport Copy of Driver's License Copy of Credit Card(s) Family Contact Information for Important People Sentimental Documents (diploma, certificate, photographs, etc.) It is best practice to keep these documents in a waterproof container and in a central location that ...

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Personal Finance 101 - Building Your Emergency Fund

Personal Finance 101 - Building Your Emergency Fund
By: Brittany Mollica When we meet a new client, one of the first financial planning topics we review is a cash reserve – money set aside in savings as an emergency fund. Why? The reason your cash reserve is so important: you can never predict when your car is going to break down, when you might lose your job or when you’ll need to take a trip to Urgent Care. These surprise expenses can be costly, and you don’t want to be forced to withdraw from your retirement accounts or take on credit card debt just to pay the bills.  How? It’s often best to set up an emergency fund separate from your regular checking account. You will want to keep this money in a savings or money market fund, which will pay you a slightly higher interest rate than your checking. These types of accounts are very liquid, meaning you can access the money at any time, and you won’t have to worry about losing value in the stock market.  How Much? Generally speaking, you will want to have at le ...

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