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Financial wisdom produced by award winning and experienced financial professionals.

The Glass Claim Conundrum: A New Challenge

By |February 6th, 2024|

Arizona's landscape is evolving rapidly, with constant construction projects reshaping its highways and byways. While the state's growth brings excitement, it also presents challenges for drivers, particularly concerning windshield damage from debris on roadways. Glass coverage might seem like a safety net against such incidents, but given the current insurance landscape in Arizona, it might not be the most prudent choice to have on your auto insurance policy. This blog explains why. In recent years, Arizona has experienced a surge in glass claims due to its construction-heavy environment. This sudden increase in claims has caught insurance carriers off guard, [...]

An Early Christmas Gift from Jerome Powell: Hopeful Signs for 2024 Economy

By |December 18th, 2023|

The halls are decked, the lights are twinkling, and just when we thought the holiday season couldn't get any merrier, Jerome Powell and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) have gifted us with news that has the potential to bring cheer not just for the festive season, but well into the new year. On December 13, 2023, the Fed made a crucial announcement at the conclusion of their two-day meeting, leaving many investors and economic enthusiasts optimistic about what lies ahead. A Pause on Rate Hikes The FOMC decided to keep interest rates unchanged. This announcement alone was enough [...]

IRS Announces New Tax Brackets for 2024

By |November 15th, 2023|

Each year, the IRS adjusts the dollar amounts of more than 60 tax provisions, including income tax brackets, the standard deduction, and the long-term capital gains tax brackets.  The adjustments for the 2024 tax year were announced last week. What are income tax brackets? As we explained in this video, our income tax system is a progressive tax.  That is, a higher tax is imposed on people with higher income, and a lower tax is imposed on people with lower income. Contrary to popular belief, being in a certain income tax bracket does not mean that all your income [...]

Three Ways to Steward your Credit Score

By |November 8th, 2023|

In a previous blog post, we discussed the importance of understanding that your credit score, while significant, is not the sole determinant when it comes to securing loans. Nevertheless, if you're aiming to enhance your credit score and position yourself favorably for borrowing opportunities, consider following these three key steps: Timely Payments: While it may sound like common sense, it's worth emphasizing that 35% of your credit score hinges on the punctuality of your payments. Furthermore, recent payment history within the last 12 to 24 months holds substantial weight. Therefore, to elevate your credit score, prioritizing on-time payments is [...]

What Do You Value Most?

By |November 1st, 2023|

Have you ever made a money decision that wasn’t going to maximize your net worth? I know I have.  So, why did we make that decision?  Shouldn’t increasing our wealth be our top priority? As a financial planner, I’ve come to realize two things: We all express our values with our money. The goal of money is to maximize our values, not net worth. First, a story. I had two clients (husband and wife) that were fun to work with.  They were younger, had kids, and were doing well financially.  In fact, the business that they started and worked [...]

What to Do with Your Current Home and Mortgage if You Buy Another Home?

By |October 25th, 2023|

If you are thinking of buying a new home, you might be wondering what to do with your current home and mortgage. This is a common dilemma for many homeowners who have built up equity in their homes and have low interest rates on their current mortgage. Should you sell your home and cash out your equity, or keep it and rent it out? What are the pros and cons of each option? Let’s explore this issue with a hypothetical scenario. Suppose you currently own a home that is worth $600,000. You owe $450,000 on it, so you have [...]

I Don’t Have Faith in the Stock Market: Tips to Help You Invest When It Feels Like the World is Ending

By |October 18th, 2023|

Today might be the best time to invest. Why is that so hard to believe? The threat of a recession, two wars in the headlines, rising interest rates, inflation, an upcoming presidential election… I get it—it doesn’t seem like the “all-clear” signal has flashed. But we know that we need to invest.  Investing in assets is the only way to make our money grow consistently above inflation.  And if there’s one sentiment that’s universally shared by all investors, it’s that they wished they invested earlier. So, what do we do when it seems like a bad time to invest?  [...]

Understanding How New Home Builders Sometimes Offer Lower Interest Rates than Banks and Mortgage Brokers

By |October 11th, 2023|

Buying a new home is an exciting endeavor, and one of the decisions you'll need to make is choosing the right mortgage lender. While banks and mortgage brokers are often the first options that come to mind, you may be surprised to learn that some new home builders can sometimes offer interest rates lower than those of traditional lenders. In this blog, we'll explore the two primary reasons behind this phenomenon, and we'll also provide guidance on how to make the best choice for your home financing. Temporary Buy-Downs: One reason why new home builders can offer lower interest rates [...]

Maximizing Returns: Diversify Beyond the Familiar Tools

By |October 4th, 2023|

I believe we live in the golden age of investing.  Not only is it easier to invest, but the costs have decreased and strategies that used to be available only to high net worth clients are accessible to any investor. But the myriad of choices and strategies can be overwhelming, especially when the markets seem to be more global and more complex. To thrive in this new age of investing, it's crucial for investors to adopt an open-minded approach to capital allocation. While the future remains uncertain, diversifying beyond the familiar could prove beneficial in the long run. Embracing [...]

Starting a Business Checklist

By |September 27th, 2023|

Starting a business can be an exciting and rewarding journey, but it also requires careful planning and execution. To ensure your venture's success, it's essential to follow a structured approach. In this blog, we'll walk you through six crucial steps to get a business started. Spoiler alert – It’s easy and it does not require a lawyer or CPA. 1. Validate the Need: Before diving headfirst into your business idea, it's crucial to validate the need for your product or service. You want to make sure that there are people who genuinely require what you're offering and are willing [...]

How To Invest With Less Risk

By |September 20th, 2023|

Investing in stocks has been rewarding for long-term investors.  But that reward comes with risk.  If you invest long enough, you are likely to experience a 50% drawdown at some point in your stock portfolio.  If you invested in the 2000’s you saw US stocks drop by 43% during the dotcom crash and 50% during the Great Financial Crisis. It’s no wonder that people are searching for a different way to invest.   In the past, someone who wanted to reduce risk simply added bonds to their portfolio.  But as we witnessed in 2022, bonds can be correlated to stocks, [...]

Should I Use My Retirement Fund for a Down Payment?

By |September 13th, 2023|

Buying your first home is a memorable experience.  It can be hard, however, for young people to save up for a down payment, especially in today’s market when housing values have increased. It’s not surprising, then, that many people consider whether they should use their retirement account to help with the down payment. Is it wise?  Well, it’s not a bad idea.  In fact, I used money from my IRA to help with the purchase of my first home! Is it ideal?  It’s probably not ideal, as taking money out of retirement accounts can be costly compared to other [...]

Don’t Make this Mistake with your Estate Plan!

By |September 6th, 2023|

Estate planning involves preparing for situations that aren’t fun to think about.  Combined with legalese that can make the process seem more confusing, no wonder people have a hard time completing the necessary steps to properly safeguard their wealth. Say you open a new retirement account and are choosing beneficiaries.  This may seem straightforward.  If you are married, you can designate your spouse, include children, etc. You can even select contingent beneficiaries in case your primary beneficiary predeceases you. But have you ever come across two unfamiliar Latin phrases when designating beneficiaries?  The terms “per stirpes” and “per capita” [...]

3 Things to do to Prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

By |August 30th, 2023|

Every year from October 15th through December 7th, the Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare beneficiaries occurs. During this time, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and/or Part D prescription drug plan. So, what can you do to prepare for this annual event? Here are three things to consider now. 3 Things to do to Prepare for Annual Enrollment Period 1. Don’t get tricked into rushing to make a change. Medicare beneficiaries know that they are constantly being marketed to. After turning 65, the biggest opportunity for insurance companies to get your business is during the Annual Enrollment Period. [...]

Introducing ONE+ by Stewardship

By |August 23rd, 2023|

Introducing ONE+ by Stewardship: Your Pathway to Affordable Homeownership Becoming a homeowner is a significant milestone that often comes with its fair share of challenges. From researching mortgage options to budgeting for maintenance costs, the journey can be both exciting and daunting. One of the most substantial hurdles, however, is the down payment. But fear not, as Stewardship is thrilled to announce its new ONE+ program, designed to help you step into your dream home with as little as 1% down and a 2% grant from Rocket Mortgage. Breaking Down ONE+: Your Key to Affordable Homeownership [...]

Just married? Do these 3 things.

By |August 16th, 2023|

Just married?  Do these 3 things. You are officially married—congratulations!  As you step into this exciting new chapter of your life, there are a few steps you should take to ensure a strong and secure financial future together.  After all, a successful marriage is built on more than just love.  Finances play a huge role in working towards a strong and lasting marriage. Here are three important action steps to prioritize after saying “I do.” Your married finances checklist Get a home buying game plan. One of the most significant decisions you and your spouse will make as a [...]