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Index of Blog Articles

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Dow Jones Industrial Average vs. S&P 500: Knowing the Difference

Both indexes arrive at a number by tracking the price movements of a representative list of stocks.
Learn the difference between these two indexes.

Understanding Credit Card Balance Transfers

While this offer looks great on the surface, people who take advantage of it might find themselves on the hook for unexpected interest charges.
Learn the balance transfer math, and the deceptive marketing practices identified by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Five Ways to Control Emotional Spending

While avoiding emotional spending completely is probably not a realistic goal for most people, there are some steps you can take to decrease the damage it does to your wallet.
For some people, shopping is much more than a pastime - it's actually an addiction called oniomania.

World's Cheapest and Safest Retirement Countries

More people each year choose to retire abroad to find a change of scenery, new experiences, and a lower cost of living.
Which countries might you consider for your retirement?

Five Things You Need To Be Pre-approved For A Mortgage

Potential buyers benefit in several ways by consulting with a lender and obtaining a pre-approval letter.
How to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

When (and When Not) to Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinancing a mortgage means paying off an existing loan and replacing it with a new one.
Evaluate refinancing your mortgage.

Ten Promising Job Prospects for 2020

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these are the fields that will virtually guarantee a job for those graduating in the next few years.
Choose your career wisely.

SECURE Act Makes Major Changes in IRA Rules

If you are a small business owner, a part-time worker, approaching or over age 70-1/2, a beneficiary of someone's IRA account or the owner of a 401(k) plan, you MUST read about the changes made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019.
Make sure you know about these major changes to IRA rules.

Market Downturns

Collectively, since 1871, the time it takes for the market to recover (top to trough to top again) is a mere 7.9 months.
Learn the history of market downturns and recoveries.

How Long Will I Live?

The average American now lives to 88. Find out your customized life expectancy based on 400,000 NIH data samples and a short quiz about your lifestyle. In addition to your life expectancy, the results also quantify the effects of changing your lifestyle habits, such as exercise, smoking, health attitude, and alcohol consumption.
Try the longevity calculator for yourself.

Six Ways To Cut The Cost Of Your Car Loan

There are numerous ways to save money on your car payments. A word of advice is to not rush the process of buying a car. From the very beginning, weigh all of your options carefully, and you'll make the choice that's right for you.
Get a lower cost car loan.

Four Important Steps For Choosing Dental Insurance

Dental insurance policies have an annual limit to coverage, from $1,000 to $1,500 a year, along with a $50 to $100 deductible. To avoid getting caught with unexpected expenses, here are some key steps to take when buying dental insurance.
Choose your dental insurance wisely.

Six Surprising Facts About Retirement

Retirement is a topic that regularly makes headlines, and not all of them are encouraging. Americans are living longer than ever before, resulting in lengthy periods of post-career life.
Retirement surprises that you need to know about.

The Six Worst Student Loan Mistakes You Can Make

No one loves the idea of student loans. But they're often a necessary evil - the only option for financing college, which (despite some debate of late) remains the best route for good jobs and rewarding careers.
Don't make these student loan mistakes.

Safe and Liquid Investment Options For Your Emergency Fund

When considering where to put your emergency funds, make sure you'll be able to access the money quickly, easily, and without a withdrawal penalty when you need it.
How to invest your emergency funds.

Ignore the Financial Media

The financial media is omnipresent. Whether it’s hearing about what the Dow did today on your drive home or a talking head pontificating about how the markets are obviously about to tank, we are constantly immersed in a miasma of prognostication.
Consider this about the financial media.

How to Plan for Medical Expenses in Retirement

Health care can be one of the biggest expenses in retirement. According to Fidelity Investments, a 65-year-old newly retired couple will need $285,000 for medical expenses.
Learn how to plan for retirement medical expenses.

Beware, the IRS is Eyeing Your Inherited Money

One of the perils of being well-off is the constant risk that the federal government and/or your friendly state and local tax collectors will figure out new and different ways to snatch more of your wealth, especially wealth that you earned the old-fashioned way: by inheriting it.
Don't leave your money to the IRS.

Seven Ways To Recession-Proof Your Life

There are many everyday habits the average person can implement to ease the sting of a recession, or even make it so its effects aren't felt at all.
Learn how to prepare for a recession.

How a Home-Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Can Hurt You

If you don't manage your home-equity line of credit prudently, a HELOC can become very expensive and get you into financial trouble.
Use your HELOC wisely.

Should You Lease or Buy Your Next Car?

Many car shoppers are stymied by the decision to lease or buy. Let's see if we can help you with the decision.
How to decide whether to lease or buy your next car.

Safe Deposit Boxes: Store This, Not That

A safe deposit box (or safety deposit box) is an individually secured container — usually a metal box — that lives in the vault of a federally insured bank or credit union.
What (and what not) to put in your safe deposit box.

Tips and Ideas for Cutting Car Insurance Costs

Car insurance rates are on the rise across the country. The good news is that there are things that you can do to minimize increases and/or reduce the burden on your wallet.
How to reduce your car insurance costs.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Buying a home with a mortgage is probably the largest financial transaction you will enter into.
Learn about mortgage interest rates.

Are Credit Karma Scores Real and Accurate?

Only you can evaluate whether getting a free credit score is really worth giving up your personal information.
Learn more about credit scores.

What Happens If You Don't Pay Your Student Loans?

Most student loans are guaranteed by the federal government, and the feds have powers about which debt collectors can only dream.
Why you should pay your student loans.

Credit, Debit and Charge Cards

From a financial perspective, debit and charge cards are structured so that they pose little danger to your financial well-being.
Use the right plastic money.

Reverse Mortgage

When used properly, it can be an effective financial planning solution.
Learn more about reverse mortgages.

Freezing Your Credit File

Now you can freeze your credit file for free.
A new tool to manage your credit file.

Four Unusual Ways to Boost Social Security Benefits

Little-known strategies available that may help you decide when you or your spouse should apply.
Get more from Social Security.

What Medicare Covers While Traveling

There are only a few instances where Medicare will cover services obtained in a foreign country.
What you need to know about Medicare when traveling.

Property Taxes (And How To Lower Them)

Property taxes are a major source of income for city, county and state governments, and other entities such as school districts.
Learn about property taxes.

Qualified Charitable Distributions

If you are over the age of 70-1/2, there is a way to reduce your taxable income, and therefore the taxes you pay, by taking advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from an IRA account.
Discover the advantages of using a QCD.

Social Security Changes To Expect In 2019

Changes taking effect on January 1, 2019, as announced by the Social Security Administration.
Learn how Social Security is changing.

The Average Retirement Savings By Age

A survey of the value of retirement accounts by age group.
How do your savings compare to your peer group?

Beginner Estate Planning

For millennials, it's never too early for estate planning.
Yes, even millennials need to plan their estates.

The Top 5 Financial Mistakes Millennials Make

The millennial experience with the 2008 financial crisis may have given them a perspective that can be detrimental to achieving any long-term aspirations they might have.
Don't make these financial mistakes.

Withdrawal Of Retirement Assets

Once we start to use those assets to fund our retirement an optimal distribution strategy can minimize the impact of taxes and save you money.
Don't stop planning just because you started withdrawing.

Letter Of Intent Will

While it has no legal standing, and a letter of intent cannot override a will, it can be an invaluable document for your family in any kind of an emergency, not just your passing.
Having a will might not be enough.

New Tax Form For Seniors

Simplified IRS Form 1040SR to be available for 2019 taxes.
See how this new form will work.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare has always had a problem with its pay-for-service model.
Is a Medicare Advantage plan right for you?

HELOC and Second Mortgage Loophole

You may still qualify for the Home Equity Line of Credit deduction.
Can you take that HELOC deduction?

Guarding Your Social Security Number

When and why you need to give your Social Security number to someone, and when you shouldn't.
Protect your Social Security number.

Words of Wisdom Courtesy of Joseph Heller

Authors Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island. Wisdom ensued.
What is really important about wealth.

Best Personal Finance Apps

What you should look for when choosing financial software.
A quick look at these personal finance apps.

Homebuyer's Guide

Whether you're buying for an investment or for a place to live, here are the 6 things real estate pros know about buying a home.
Buy your next home like a pro.

Building Health Care Costs Into Retirement Planning

There is one aspect of health care and health care costs that is controllable amid many that are not: whether people are in good health or not.
Lower your retirement health care costs.

Social Security Administration shortchanges widows and widowers

An Inspector General's report accused the Social Security Administration staffers of reducing the benefits of thousands of widows and widowers.
Don't count on Social Security bureaucrats to have all the answers.

Qualified Plan Withdrawals: IRA vs. 401(k)

There are differences in how withdrawals from IRA accounts are regulated versus those from 401(k) employer plans.
Learn the withdrawal differences between the plans.

Surprise! Millennials Are A Generation Of Savers

It appears that Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are going against stereotype, with more than half of them saving for retirement.
Stereotypes can be misleading.

Don't Get 'Escheated' Out Of Your Money!

Unfortunately, the English common law on escheatment has evolved from making sure abandoned property does not go to waste, to making sure the state has another source of income.
Avoid unwittingly giving your money to the state.

Free Money!

Catchy title, huh? Well, in this case, it may actually be true.
Find money you didn't know you had.

Turning 65? Here Are Some Pitfalls When Signing Up For Medicare

First, rest assured that, if you enroll in Medicare when you turn 65 and sign up for both Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (doctor visits, equipment, etc.), along with a Part D drug plan, then the only “pitfall” might be choosing the wrong Part D or Medicare Supplement Plan for your specific medical needs.
The Medicare enrollment decision is too important to get wrong.

Like Exercise, Long-Term Investing Requires Persistence and Patience

Dave Rowan, a CFP from Rowan Financial reflects on the parallels between financial and physical wellness.
Exercise your investment skills.

Proposed Department Of Labor Rules: How They'll Impact Advisors and Investors

Recently, the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new rule requiring just about every professional who deals with retail investors to adhere to a fiduciary standard of practice.
Learn what a fiduciary is, and why you would want one.

Where Does the Economy Go from Here?

Chief Economist Brian Wesbury of First Trust shares his insights on the state of the U.S. economy in this article written by Matthew Jarrell.
Thoughts on the future of the economy.

Six Things Every College Graduate Needs to Know About Money

Just getting started? Beyond the relative safety of college sits the stressful and sometimes messy world of adulthood.
Make the transition from college to career successful.

Big Changes To Social Security

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, passed by Congress and signed by the President, includes significant changes to Social Security's rules.
Learn what changed about Social Security.

Supreme Court Decides That Inherited IRAs Are NOT Retirement Accounts

On June 18th, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that, for the purpose of federal bankruptcy law, an inherited IRA in no longer considered a “retirement account” and is therefore accessible to creditors in a bankruptcy.
Learn how to protect your heirs from their creditors.

Required Minimum Distributions

These are withdrawals from IRA accounts required by the tax code once a person reaches the age of 70-1/2, and every year thereafter.
Don't pay the IRS a 50% penalty.

The Case For Benign Neglect

Carl Richards, who writes a blog for the New York Times, had an interesting entry last year that I thought bears repeating. Titled “What You Don't Know About Your Portfolio May Help You,” Mr. Richards expands on Warren Buffet's statement that “benign neglect, bordering on sloth, remains the hallmark of our investment process.”
Don't check your account too often.

Roth IRA vs. Roth 401(k)

If you're lucky enough to have access to a Roth 401(k) through your employer, you probably know that there are a couple of differences, to your advantage, that the Roth 401(k) has over an individual Roth IRA.
Learn the differences between a Roth IRA and a Roth 401(k).

Do You Have A Super-IRA?

Well, it's not called an IRA, but an HSA — a Health Savings Account (HSA). Why do I call it a “Super-IRA”? Because like a regular IRA, you get a tax deduction when you deposit money in the account. Like a Roth IRA, when you withdraw your money from the account, it is not taxed as income. And, like both types of IRA, your money grows tax-free; dividends and interest earned in the account are not taxed when received.
Learn how to use your HSA to your best advantage.

Maximize Your Social Security

If, like me, you're over 55 (way over!), you've probably received regular invitations in the mail to attend a seminar on Social Security from an advisor that is just dying to buy you lunch or dinner.
Learn how to plan for your Social Security benefits.

Welcome to Stout Bowman and Associates

Putting trust and integrity first, we make financial planning understandable and comfortable every step of the way. The Financial Planning process that we provide is comprehensive and unbiased. We do not work for a particular company or financial institution; we only work for you.
Let us introduce ourselves.


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