Single Point of View

Single Point of View is our way to occasionally share planning ideas relating to personal finance. Our goal is to pass along concepts that you may not be exposed to on a daily basis.

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Equifax Security Breach – What to do?!

Equifax – one of the three primary credit bureaus – announced last Thursday, September 7th, that they were the victims of a massive cyber-attack spanning from May – July 2017.  While cyber-attacks have unfortunately become more common in recent years, this attack is particularly notable as it is considered the largest breach of consumer data in US history, impacting approximately 143 million people in the US.  The most sensitive of personal data was compromised in this breach including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and it is believed that around 209,000 people had credit card information stolen.       Here’s Our View on the steps necessary to remain protected from the ramifications of a breach of this magnitude.   Check to see if you were affected Equifax has set-up an online portal that allows individuals to check whether their personal data was compromised as part of the...
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Seth Corkin: SPP Welcomes New Personal CFO

Seth 3Single Point Partners is very excited to announce the addition of our newest Personal CFO, Seth Corkin. I was first introduced to Seth through a pro-bono financial planning initiative we are both engaged in.  Through these initial interactions, it was immediately clear to me that he is a highly talented individual with a passion for financial planning and a strong commitment to giving back by sharing his knowledge and expertise.  At one meeting the leader of the non-profit organization read aloud a testimonial from one of the participants in the program.  This person made an emotional statement about the respect he treated her with and how working with Seth had changed her life for the better.  Although this was through a volunteer engagement, he made her feel like an important client.  Seth then spoke from the heart about how meaningful the relationship was to him as well.  The point he made...
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When a "Dream College" Isn't So Dreamy

For a few weeks this summer we were once again lucky enough to have Liam Cronan join our office as a summer intern.  Liam has just finished his freshman year in college, he'll be spending the second half of his summer working on a political campaign.  While Liam was here he worked on a number of projects, the most prominent was building the framework of the Investment Expense Analysis tool which many of our clients have already seen the results of.   Liam had a very successful first year of college, from a grades standpoint.  However, he learned that Bentley University was not the right fit for him.  In the guest blog post below he shares his experience in coming to realize that he was at the wrong school, and the process he went through as a transfer applicant.   Almost every high school student who chooses to apply to college...
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Stock-picking Mutual Funds die hard… for now

The ability of traditional Mutual Fund stock-pickers to deliver out-performance has been decaying for 2 decades. A recent WSJ editorial by renowned finance scholar Burton Malkiel sites the most recent stats published by Standard-&-Poor's and they are absolutely ugly. •“More than 90% of active US managers under-performed their benchmark indexes over a 15-year period.”  •“Over 85% of small-cap managers under-performed the S&P Small-Cap Index.” •“Since 2001, 89% of actively managed International funds had inferior performance. “ •“Even in less efficient Emerging markets, index funds outperformed 90% of active funds” The total value of US public stocks is worth 25 Trillion dollars, and though active stock-picking funds still dominate with market share at around 67%, over the last 5 years their share has declined by 12%.  In terms of new money flows, the Market-Tracking index products have been taking 75-80% of the available dollars. This is partly a reflection of younger investors’...
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Making Your Estimated Tax Payments Online

With tomorrow being June 15th, we wanted to update this post from last year as a reminder to pay your quarterly tax estimates.  Below are the links to simplify things and make these payments online. For many of us who have income that is not subject to tax withholding (for example: earnings from self-employment, interest, dividends, rents, alimony, etc.) April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th represent a day of writing checks to the IRS. These are known as estimated tax payments.  If you've ever found yourself scrambling to find your vouchers, or, the address to mail them to on the due date there is a simpler way.   Did you know you could make these payments to the IRS using their "Direct Pay" service? For Federal payment, use this link for the IRS site: http://www.irs.gov/Payments/Direct-Pay   If you are in MA, you can also make your estimated state...
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Who is an Aging Life Care Professional, and What Do They Do?

As financial planners, we are often tasked with answering the question of how our clients will fund their advanced care needs later in life.  However, who is helping you make the choices on how, and by whom, that care is provided?  In this Guest Blog Post, Kate Granigan (CEO) & Anna Pollard (Dir of Clinical Services) of Life Care Advocates outline to us what an Aging Life Care Professional is, and the role they play in helping you plan. Who is an Aging Life Care Professional, and What Do They Do?  By: Kate Granigan & Anna Pollard May is Aging Life Care Professionals (ALCP) Month!  Who, you may ask, is an Aging Life Care Professional, and what do they do? An ALCP is a highly experienced health care professional, usually a social worker or nurse, but also includes mental health professionals, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and others.  Many have had experience...
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Markets are not always efficient, nor right

Of the 46 previous declines of -10% or more in the stock market (S&P500), a little more than a third (19) became bear markets, defined as a drop of at least -20%.  Most of the -10% pull-backs – as sharp and painful as they are - turned out to be just false signals and momentary detours as the market resumed its upward march within months.  The Market at times becomes divorced from fundamentals, and over-obsessed with ‘headline’ risk.  Over-interpreting the ‘signal’ from these pullbacks is almost always a losing proposition.  Discipline in the face of noise is essential to long term out-performance. I have also observed that every now and then different asset markets go through bouts of over-pessimism or over-optimism. You may hear that a certain asset class (e.g. high-yield bonds) or sector (e.g. pharma) is ‘trading on sentiment’ rather than fundamentals; or that its price reflects an implausibly negative...
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Big Planning Opportunity with Health Savings Accounts

In short: fund it and invest it, don't use it.   Potentially, the best way to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) is to maximize the funding of it, but, instead of using the funds year-by-year to cover your out-of-pocket health care expenses, invest the funds and allow them to grow for the future.  The reason this strategy makes sense is the unique tax benefits of HSA's:  tax deductible contributions, tax-free growth & tax-free distributions.  Do you know what other types of accounts have all of these long-term features? NONE! IRAs & 401ks are tax deductible in the year you make the contribution, but you are taxed when you take the money out. Roth IRAs grow tax-free and are tax-free upon distribution, however, you do not get a tax-deduction when you make the contribution. The HSA combines the tax benefits of these two types of accounts. In fact, a good retirement...
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Rene Jarquin - My Personal Story

I believe America’s economy is exceptional.  Despite the many head-winds faced in the last decade, there is no country where I would rather raise my family and pursue my passion - investing. In my first blog I thought that you should get a sense of who I am, so let me do so through a short personal statement. I was 9 years old when my family fled the communist take-over of Nicaragua.  My parents were 42 and 36, so I have first-hand experience of economic loss born of political risk - and what it means to start over.  I suppose like most immigrants to the US, I tend to think there is no better place to invest than here.  I am aware of my bias, and I am not blind to our flaws – perhaps none more glaring than the conditions that led to the sub-prime crisis a decade ago.  Even...
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Rene Jarquin: SPP Welcomes New Partner

Rene Headshot 4Each decision we make at Single Point starts with the question: “Will this improve the quality of advice, service, and overall experience for our clients?” Never have I been more certain of the answer to that question than when making the decision to bring on our new partner, Rene Jarquin. I am very excited to share the news that Single Point Partners is welcoming Rene Jarquin to the firm as Chief Investment Officer.  Rene is a deep investment thinker who will elevate our cross-asset allocation and research capabilities.  Rene is someone I have worked closely with, and known personally, for over 6 years.   As we explored the possibility of Rene becoming part of the Single Point family, we started with a shared vision of financial advice being a partnership between our clients and us.  We strongly believe that a team approach built with members with unique areas of expertise and...
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Track Your Home Improvements Now to Save on Taxes Later

We all know that when you sell a stock you pay a tax on the profit (the difference between what you paid for it, and, what you sold it for).  This is referred to as a capital gain.  The same principal holds true for the sale of a property, be it an investment property or your personal residence. One caveat to this is if you have a capital gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude up to $250,000 of that gain from your income. You may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of that gain if you file a joint return with your spouse (*see the note at the bottom for more detail). Even with these exclusions, if you own your property for a long enough period of time, there is a good chance that some tax could be owed upon sale.  The below guidelines...
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Fidelity Trading Costs Reduced

Very good news for our clients with accounts held at Fidelity.  Fidelity has announced that it has reduced trading costs on equity trades (including Exchange Traded Funds) from $7.95 to $4.95 per trade.  As you may know, there are a number of iShares ETFs that trade at no cost on Fidelity's platform as well.     We wanted to make you aware of this change as it impacts many of you (in a positive way).
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MA now offers tax deduction for 529 contributions

If you live in Massachusetts, and are currently utilizing a 529 plan for college savings, you should consider reviewing which plan you are using.   Effective January 1, 2017 through the 2021 tax year, contributions to Massachusetts 529 plans of up to $1,000 per year by an individual, and up to $2,000 per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible in computing Massachusetts taxable income.   The catch is you have to use the MA state sponsored plan.  Luckily, this is a good plan managed by Fidelity its called the U.Fund).  They have improved the plan over the years, including lowering fees on the investment options (through the Fidelity Index Funds available in the plan).   Prior to this change in tax law, we helped clients choose the right plan for them based on a number of factors.  This becomes one of the factors in deciding the appropriate plan...
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The Election and Your Money

I wanted to touch base with you all as I know there are a lot of questions about the impact on your money given the results of the election last night. This is not a political commentary, there is plenty of that out there for you in other forums. I wrote a similar email to this, focusing on the impact to your financial life, over the summer when the vote on Brexit occurred.   One thing that is consistent about financial markets is that they do not like uncertainty.  When the polling is incorrect, and a different result than was expected by many occurs, it brings on uncertainty.   Last night at around 1:00 am (while I was emailing with some of you) the futures markets had the S&P down around 5% because of this uncertainty.  As of this writing around 8:00 am, that has come back to down only about 1%....
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Health Insurance: Medicare & Employee Benefits Reviews

Fall:  leaves change, apple picking, football and health insurance.  Something like that. October 15th began open enrollment for Medicare plan choices for 2017.  If you want to review the coverage you have (Supplemental plans and Part D coverage) we have until December 7th to make changes. Open enrollment for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act (the MA Health Connector for those in Massachusetts) begins on November 1st and runs through January 31st.  In most states you have until mid-December to have selected a plan with a 1/1/2017 effective date. This is often the time of year that employers offer open enrollment for benefit selection for the following year.  As health insurance plans are evolving, and more choices become available, it is important to review these options as it relates to you and your family.  Are your doctors part of the network? Are you planning a career transition next year?...
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Important Changes to Financial Aid Process

If you have a child in college, or, will have one entering college in fall of 2017, I've got your weekend plans all lined up.  The process for filing FAFSA (Free Application for federal Student Aid) has changed.  The most important thing to know is that starting this Saturday (October 1) you can access the FAFSA forms and submit your application.  So, if you have college-aged children, plan to get started on it this weekend. In past years the forms weren't available until January and required previous year tax return information.  This often left parents scrambling to file their tax returns early in order to better understand how much aid you could plan for (which is often a big factor in choosing which school your child will attend).  The process now allows you to use tax return information from the prior, prior year.  So, for the school year 2017-2018, you will...
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Estimated Tax Payments - Online Payment Option

With tomorrow being June 15th, we wanted to update this post from last year as a reminder to pay your quarterly tax estimates.  Below are the links to simplify things and make these payments online.   For many of us who have income that is not subject to tax withholding (for example: earnings from self-employment, interest, dividends, rents, alimony, etc.) April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th represent a day of writing checks to the IRS. These are known as estimated tax payments.  If you've ever found yourself scrambling to find your vouchers, or, the address to mail them to on the due date there is a simpler way.     Did you know you could make these payments to the IRS using their "Direct Pay" service?   For Federal payment, use this link for the IRS site: http://www.irs.gov/Payments/Direct-Pay   If you are in MA, you can also make your...
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An Intern's Experience at Single Point

We were very fortunate to have Liam Cronan spend several weeks with us in May as part of his high school senior project.  He was finishing up his senior year at Thayer Academy and will be starting at Bentley University in fall.  He has a great work ethic, quickly completed projects and was eager to help.  It was great to have a fresh perspective on how we can improve our services.  Many of you may have read the informative  blog he wrote on children and money. As part of the project, Liam was required to write about his experience.  We thought it would make for some light summer blog reading: For the better part of the month of May, I had the pleasure of the opportunity to work as an intern at Single Point Partners in Boston.  Single Point was founded in 2012 by Mr. Shaun Erickson, a Bentley college (the school...
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Hidden Costs of Stopping Work for Childcare

The question of whether or not to have one parent stop working to provide childcare is a difficult one for many families.  The lifestyle we want for our families is all about choices and priorities.  There is no right or wrong choice.  There is no right or wrong priority.  This is one of the the beauties of life: we all get to decide what will make us and our families happy. For some, having one parent stay home may mean foregoing certain lifestyle choices (a smaller house, living in a more remote area, lower vacation budget, etc. etc.).  On the flip side we may prioritize being in a certain town for our children's education, or, the fact that both parents simply enjoy their career and the work they do.   One size does not fit all, everyone's situation is different.  If we are fortunate enough for this to be a choice,...
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Welcome to the new Single Point of View

Same content, new page.  We've moved our Single Point of View blog directly onto the www.spcfo.com website.  You'll notice a slightly new look to the blog.  We plan to continue using this format for communicating planning related thoughts and educational information to you.     We've also set up a Single Point Partners Facebook page if it is easier for you to follow us there.  
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