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For many retirees, even those who have meticulously planned their retirement income, the amount of taxes they are expected to pay may come as an unwelcome surprise. How can you best plan for a tax efficient retirement? Chris Chen and other financial planners offer common sense suggestions in this CNN Money article.

Most people would be better off not having mortgages in retirement. Relatively few will get any tax benefit from this debt, and the payments can get more difficult to manage on fixed incomes. But retiring a mortgage before you retire isn’t always possible. Financial planners recommend creating a Plan B to ensure you don’t wind up house rich and cash poor – see what Chris Chen has to say.

The change in tax laws affects how alimony and child support are treated, going into effect for agreements signed after the end of the year. So, if divorce is in your near future, it might pay to try to beat the clock, says Chris Chen in this Kiplinger article.

Yes, you can. However your specific needs should drive the number and type of policies you purchase. Read Chris’ input to this story for more information on properly planning for insurance needs.

The latest data from a poll of 1,000 Americans age 22 to 37, finds that nearly half of millennials are spending more money on restaurants and dining out than they are putting into retirement accounts. Thirty-two percent spend more on clothes than they save, and more than a quarter reported spending more on coffee, alcohol and online streaming services. See what Chris Chen has to say from a financial planning perspective.

Seventy percent of U.S. households headed by people ages 65 to 74 had at least some debt in 2016, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances. Because paying debt usually gets more difficult on a fixed income, people have the most options to deal with debt if they create a plan before they retire, financial planners say. Refinancing a mortgage, for example, is usually less of a hassle while people are still employed. It’s also typically easier to generate the extra income that may be needed to pay off debt. Read Chris Chen’s thoughts on generating cash flow is retirement.

6/15/2018

U.S. News and World Report

6/6/2018

Investopedia

Insight Financial Strategists’ own Chris Chen has been named to Investopedia’s Most Influential Advisors list for 2018!
The list celebrates financial advisors who have contributed significantly to conversations about financial literacy, investing strategies, life-stage planning and wealth management.

6/15/2018

U.S. News and World Report

With a bond tent, an investor gradually allocates a larger portion of his or her portfolio to bonds as he or she nears retirement in order to protect against marekt downturns. A bond tent can be an appropriate tool for investors who will not have large Social Security payments or pensions, and who will need to rely primarily on income from their portfolio to fund retirement. “The reality is that we cannot predict when a downturn will actually happen and what its magnitude will be. Hence strategies like bond tents are critical to the financial well-being of retirees and near retirees.” says Chris Chen, a financial planner for Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Advisors focused on capturing next-generation assets should realize there’s a surviving spouse between them and their millennial pot of gold — and, statistically speaking, it’s a woman. Chris Chen of Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Mass., agrees recent divorce and widowhood are “emotionally overwhelming” experiences — but he thinks the hands-off element is sometimes temporary. “What they want is to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma that they just experienced,” says the CDFA. “They want to avoid also what they perceive as the real hard work of getting on top of the financial issues.”

Under President Trump’s new tax plan, starting in 2019, payers will be no longer be able to deduct their alimony payments. For divorcees in the top tax bracket, the change could mean they effectively pay double in post-tax costs compared to what they had previously agreed to in their prenups.  If agreements aren’t amended to factor in the tax changes, it will be up to divorce attorneys to settle — or judges to decide — whether the amounts or formulas still stand for couples who divorce starting next year. “Folks already don’t like paying alimony, so doubling the effective cost would be painful,” said Chris Chen, a financial planner who specializes in divorce-related matters at Insight Financial Strategists.

4/25/2018

Medical Economics

Physicians are riding the digital health wave, investing in startup companies long before they reach the public stock markets as technology and regulation disrupt the healthcare industry. Some physicians see the deals as financial investments, others see them as potential future careers, but all of them should keep the significant risks of early-stage companies in mind before jumping in, experts say. Consider the personal credibility of anyone involved in the deal, says Chris Chen, CFP, chief executive of Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Mass. “Financials always look good because they are contrived to look good,” he says. In other words, treat any future projections with skepticism. “Beyond that, look at whether the principals are properly motivated and have credibility from doing this work before.”

If your retirement investments are spread out over multiple individual retirement accounts (IRAs), it may make sense to treat these various accounts as one, a process known as “aggregating.” Aggregation means treating several accounts as one, not actually combining them, and can allow for more efficient planning for distributions and more efficient investment strategy management.

Day trading is treacherous, especially in a volatile market. “If you want to compete on that level, you need the weapons,” Chen said. “It’s like going to a gunfight with a knife.” Day trading in a consistent bull market, like the past year and a half has been, can be easier, since you buy, see the prices go up and sell to make a profit. But during volatility, it’s almost impossible to tell what will happen and how long the ups and downs will sustain, he said.

Just two weeks ago the consensus was that we were going to experience a continuation of the bull market at least into the early part of this year. This is still our view. Read Chris’ thoughts on the recent market turmoil, as well as the views of other financial advisors.

Buying life insurance on someone else and naming yourself as beneficiary might sound like a plot point in a film noir mystery. But taking out a policy on another person makes good sense in some situations. Whether you can do it, though, depends on your relationship and having the other person’s consent.

Credit cards can be a useful convenience when used for day-to-day expenses and paid off at the end of the month, says Chris Chen, a certified financial planner and wealth strategist at Insight Financial Strategists in Boston. “In some cases, it’s very difficult to function without a credit card — for hotels and rentals cars, for instance,” he says. He adds that they are also useful for online shopping, since credit cards offer far more protections than debit cards.

Many non-native workers in the U.S. are young professionals hired by firms seeking workers with highly valued skills. In 2016, more than 870,000 foreign nationals were granted the most common temporary work visas. Should these workers consider contributing to company sponsored plans? This article provides important considerations in answering that question.

Acrimonious couples who were racing to get divorced by Dec. 31 or face dire tax consequences can breathe a sigh of relief. The final tax overhaul bill gives them until the end of 2018 before completely upending the divorce process.

If you’ve decided that a store card isn’t right for you, stay strong and don’t let the sales associate persuade you. “Their job is to get you to sign up,” says Chris Chen, a Massachusetts-based CFP.

Written into the fabric of the new GOP tax proposal is a change in how alimony is taxed. People paying alimony could lose “the greatest tax deduction ever.” And that could ultimately affect those receiving alimony, too.

While many couples dissolve their marriages without significant legal involvement, divvying up retirement accounts, particularly pensions, is thorny. Doing it without a proper legal agreement could stick you with a hefty tax bill and penalties. In some cases, one party may end up with nothing.

For women, divorcing an income-providing, money-managing spouse is bound to do damage to the bottom line – and force some changes. However, with proper planning and education, uncoupling can offer independence and financial power as well.

In this article, Chris Chen and Eric Weigel explain the new trend toward socially responsible investing (SRI) and the accompanying environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics used by investment managers, as well as the evolution of these strategies over time, and important considerations for interested investors.

Getting the flu shot should be a no-brainer,” says certified financial planner Chris Chen, wealth strategist with Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Massachusetts. “The low or free cost of the shot is one of the great deals of everyday living, given what it can cost if you get the flu.”

10/24/2017

Wicked Local Lexington

Economic and Finance Lecture Series — Money Management & Investment: Retirement: 2 p.m. Nov. 1. Wealth strategist Jim Wood from Insight Financial Strategists LLC will present money management considerations for one’s pre-retirement “accumulation period” and their post retirement “distribution period” at the Lexington Community Center. Call 781-698-4870 to sign up.

 

10/10/2017

Investment News

Nearly thirty years ago, on Oct. 19, 1987, investors and advisers learned a lesson about stock market volatility that has stayed with them to this day. “I had recently graduated from graduate school with an MBA,” said Chris Chen, a financial planner with Insight Financial Strategists. “Everyone I knew who went to Wall Street that year got laid off.”

Going from a dual-income household in marriage to a single-income household is a big change.  “Alimony and child support are not forever,” Chen says. “You have to plan for when it ends: Continue advancing your career to progress from a lower-paying job, and make sure your expenses are lined up at the right level.”

Read Chris Chen’s take on a new Harvard Business School study that found that employees tend to contribute the same amount to either a Roth or traditional 401(k), indicating some employee confusion around the tax advantages and impacts.

6/28/2017

The DO: Money Matters

“New doctors have a lot of pent-up consumption, so it’s natural that they would want to splurge a little,” says Chris Chen, a certified financial planner with Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Massachusetts. But giving into temptation and plunking down a wad of cash on a BMW or a Lexus can be a terrible financial mistake, Chen says. Find out why.

Don’t neglect to review your insurance coverage amid the grief and complicated logistics of breaking up. The right insurance creates a financial safety net for the fresh start ahead, and this article outlines the checklist you should be using.

In this article, we’ll go over eight major reasons why you should focus on keeping your 401(k) plan until retirement, rather than using it as a piggy bank.

6/6/2017

Financial Advisor Magazine

A rising number of financial advisors nationwide believe that virtual reality (VR) technology geared to financial planning will help clients overcome their limited ability to envision their golden years. Learn more about these tools under development.

As the Department of Labor’s rules that govern the practice of advising clients on investments take effect,  advisors provide insight into their individual philosophy and personal ethical considerations that will guide their roles as fiduciaries.

If you’re planning to remain in a relationship without getting married, consider these guidelines before putting down cash on an investment like a home or car. You owe it to yourself and your partner to be prepared — just in case.

Check out these tips on how to pre-load your spending, a classic method to ensure that you don’t overspend. Advance planning and a thoughtful approach to spending can help you meet your financial goals.

4/3/2017

Insurance News Net

Many baby boomers are still wounded financially by the the Great Recession of 2008. Advisors can help them recover, although many are hesitant to seek advice.

Advisors are fielding questions and concerns from clients worried about the current bull market’s advanced age, and reminding them to take a long term view with respect to their savings and investments.

2/15/2017

LifeHealthPro.com

The DOL fiduciary rule was passed last year to mandate that advisors’ advice should only be in the client’s best interest. Dodd-Frank was passed and implemented in the wake of the Great Recession to help prevent another crash. The Trump administration has suggested that they wanted to get rid of the DOL rule and Dodd Frank.

It is accepted wisdom that portfolios need to be re-balanced. Yet this is task that is more complicated than at first blush.

2/03/2017

Investor’s Business Daily

Long Term Care is a critical and complex aspect of a retirement plan. Yet it is often not addressed very well. For most people it is well worth the effort. Check also this blog post by Jim Wood.

Giving money to kids can be more complicated than giving a toy. Jean Chatzky goes over some of the key considerations

Student loans are a major investment these days, leading to a substantial average default rate ranging from 18.9% in New Mexico to 6.1% in Massachusetts, according to Nerdwallet.

12/8/2016

Magnify Money

The Federal Reserve came through with its long awaited interest rate increase this December 2016. A quarter point increase is small, but it still has impact on people’s finances.

11/30/2016

Investment News

Obviously, men also make mistakes when they divorce. Did we mention the obvious path to try to avoid these mistakes?

There appears to be a gender divide about divorce attitudes that leads to mistakes that women tend to make more than men. In my opinion, the divide is not so much about gender as it is about the relative power of the parties.

For many, the last few years before retirement is a planning scramble. Despair not! There are still things you can do if you are late starting.

It is critically important not to overreact to the new administration. In the end, the US economy will outlast Trump .

A lot of things will change with the new Trump administration. However, if you have a strong long term plan, things will probably work out. If not, get a long term plan! For the short run, you may want to mitigate risks.

Notwithstanding the post election market rally we are likely to face a few bumpy roads ahead. It is important not to panic and not to lose sight of long term goals.

In this Investopedia piece, I review some of the issues with divorce and retirement accounts.

10/20/2016

CNS News

How to Ditch Your Bank

Who has never been annoyed at their bank? In the wake of the Wells Fargo scandal, this article by Jeanne Lee of Nerdwallet explores the steps to take when you want to ditch your bank!

8/17/2016

PR Buzz

A plug for a new book on negotiating from Janet Miller Wiseman. This new book outlines a practical way to negotiate disagreements. Janet Miller Wiseman is a Certified Family and Divorce Mediator and a co-founder of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. She is also the author of Mediation Therapy: Short-Term Decision Making for Couples and Families in Crisis.

Mark Shoeff at Investment News asked if Trump’s tax avoidance is legal and/or moral, and if it is evidence of the famous Trump business acumen.

Suzanne Wooley at Bloomberg wonders if spouses hide retirement savings from one another . She cites a Fidelity study that states that 43% of people do not know how much their partner makes, much less how much is in their partner’s retirement account. Most people also have no idea what they would need to keep up their lifestyle in retirement.

Why might that be? According to Suzanne’s article, they are a range of factors ranging from people hiding their finances to people not having a culture of talking about money (this is my contribution to Suzanne’s article).

Regardless it seems that most of us could use a course in financial communications .

Suzanne Wooley writes in this Bloomberg article that the Betterment robo advisor can now optimize for taxes as well as asset allocation. It sounds like a compelling solution.

After testing the Betterment, it occurred to me that a client had better understand asset allocation, and now taxes as well, if they want to make good decisions. Sure a robot can implement anything you tell them, but you still need to give them the right input!

A robo cannot integrate tax loss harvesting in one account in your wider financial strategy, including your overall tax planning, legacy planning, risk management and coordinate various accounts.

With the current state of development, robo advisors are best used as a tool for Certified Financial Planner professionals, maybe not so much for end users directly.

In the wake of the Brangelina divorce, Dan Goldstein of MarketWatch delves into the issues of disposing of your home when you are divorcing.

There is nothing easy about divorce or widowhood. Ilana Polyak’s article in CNBC summarizes the issues

There are still too many people who feel compelled to raid their 401(k) in times of stress. This article by Debbie Nason for CNBC captures the issues.

Kate Ashford at Forbes reviews some of the critical decisions about college financing.

It is unfortunate that so many people feel that college was not worth it. Kate Ashford at Forbes explores the issues

Diversification is an oft misunderstood concept. This article by Chris Chen reviews some of the issues.

People often want to know how fast they should pay off their mortgage. It sounds obvious (as soon as possible), but it may not be.

What should Prince have done about his estate planning. Unfortunately, Prince left quite a challenge behind.

4/2016

Investment News

Chris Chen is happy to figure prominently on this list!

12/16/2015

Wealth Management

08/24/2015

Boston Globe

Publications

Health Insurance Taxation Issues Post-Divorce
by Chris Chen, CFP®, CDFATM and Justin L. Kelsey, Esq.

Unintended Consequences of “An Act to Reform and Improve Alimony,” in Massachusetts: Avoiding the Pitfalls on the Road to Reform
by Janet Miller Wiseman, Certified Divorce Mediator, Jeanne Kangas, Esquire, and Howard Goldstein, Esquire, Chris Chen, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
Originally published by the Boston Bar Association.