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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My clients utilize me as a partner to help them feel comfortable with the decisions they make in life. An ideal client for me is someone who is looking for advice beyond the allocation and management of their liquid investment portfolio. As a finance major at Bentley College I began to build skills that allow me to help my clients understand the financial impact of their decisions. For 11 years at Baystate Financial, starting in 2001, I developed an understanding of the practice of financial planning.


In 2012, I was driven to found Single Point to build a firm that was focused on the agenda of my clients. The name of our company was born from the idea of being a "single point of contact" for our clients. I recognize that I do not have all of the answers, therefore, we have built our business around a great network of experts and resources for our clients. We place an important focus on researching, vetting, and collaborating with various professionals and services for our clients. When I don't have the answer, I pride myself on knowing the right questions to ask, and who to ask them of.


As an active member of Financial Planning Associations of MA, I am involved with their pro-bono programs with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and The Midas Collaborative. My clients are spread across the country, but I live in Boston with my wife Alicia and our three children.

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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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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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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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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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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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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Elf Spotting, Financial Advisors & Fiduciaries


Thank you John Oliver for explaining the problems in the financial advice industry in a way that I never could (with a lot of swears and humor).     That bowl of soup explains better than I ever could exactly why we act as fiduciaries for our clients.Oliver outlines the reality of the impact of fees (most of which are hidden).  This is exactly why we have moved to a flat fee model for our Personal CFO relationships.  We want you to know what you pay (in dollars) for the advice/guidance we provide. He discussed the new Department of Labor ruling which I wrote about in a recent blog post.  Here are my ‘boring’ thoughts: http://spcfo.com/single-point-of-view-blog/entry/singlepointofview/thoughts-on-the-recent-dol-ruling.html When the lobbyist for the big financial institutions are fighting this hard against a change, you know it is for a reason (hint: it probably isn't because they truly believe it is best for you).  The...
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Social Security: After April 29

In previous posts we outlined the beginning of some big changes to social security claiming strategies this year.http://singlepointpartners.blogspot.com/2015/10/congress-makes-changes-to-social.htmlhttp://singlepointpartners.blogspot.com/2015/11/important-dates-for-new-social-security.htmlNow that the important date of April 29th has passed what should you be aware of.  One item we wanted to draw your attention to is the File & Suspend strategy for individuals.  File & Suspend is still an option for individual filers, however, unlike in the past we would recommend NOT choosing this option going forward.In the past, if a Single Filer chose File & Suspend they became eligible for a future lump sum reinstatements.  Essentially, this meant if you went through the Process of Filing & Suspending your benefit (as opposed to simply allowing it to defer by not filing) you were eligible to change your mind going all the way back to Full Retirement Age.  If you had a change in health when you were 69, and felt your life expectancy...
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Thoughts on the Recent DOL Ruling

  I read a study recently that stated only 30% of those who refer to themselves as financial advisors actually provide any level of financial planning.  One can only imagine that within that 30%, it is only a subset who are truly focused on planning vs. those who provide some planning as an ancillary service.   So what are the other 70% of "financial advisors" doing.  They are most likely insurance salespeople, or, strictly investment advisors.  To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with insurance sales and investment management - we need those services.     The issue we have with the industry is in how confusing it must be to the general public.  When looking for financial advice, the natural thing to do is find a financial advisor.  How does one know if they are getting a financial advisor who is a financial planner, investment advisor, or insurance salesman...
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How To Read a Financial Aid Award Letter

It is the time of year that many students are receiving acceptance letters to colleges.  With that comes navigating the financials involved with paying for it.  Below is an article from EFC Plus with an explanation on how to read a Financial Aid Award Letter.  The most important part of analyzing the information is in separating the merit-based aid and the self-help financial aid, which will give you a better view of your true cost of education.http://www.efcplus.com/financial-aid-award-letter-analysis/Or, for those who prefer, here's a quick video tutorial. http://www.efcplus.com/project/financial-award-letter/
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Stock Markets & Tax Information

  This was an email we sent to our clients last week that we wanted to share on our blog.To state the obvious, it has been a difficult start to the year for global stock markets.  I don’t want to add to the noise you hear on TV or read about.  As you know, predictions on where its going from here is not what we do.  We believe in taking the appropriate level of risk for your goals and time horizons, then rebalancing back to that level on a regular basis.  For the investments you own that have a shorter time horizon, or, that you have chosen to have a more balanced risk allocation with, it is safe to assume you are not down as much as what you hear reported on the news.  For your aggressive, longer term investments, it is safe to say you are.  That is by design...
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Important Dates for New Social Security Claiming Strategy Rules

With the new rules for Social Security claiming strategies it is important to know the relevant dates to take advantage of the old rules.  For many, this will be out of your hands.  However, for those right around the Full Retirement Age right now (66), knowing these dates and acting in time could allow you to take advantage of a claiming strategy that could add thousands of dollars to your retirement income.   From our friend, Michael Kitces, here is the chart outlining the important dates and who should consider action prior to them:    
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Congress Makes Changes to Social Security and Medicare

As part of the Federal Budget deal passed by Congress (still to be voted on by Senate) there are a couple of major changes to both Social Security and Medicare.Social Security File & Suspend Claiming Strategy Eliminated:We have worked with many clients to develop a plan to maximize social security benefits.  Often times, this planning included a strategy commonly called File & Suspend.  This strategy allowed one spouse to collect benefits off of the other spouse's record from age 66-70, allowing their own benefit to continue to grow.  At age 70 they would switch to their own benefit. This legal strategy has been deemed a "loophole" by Congress and this pending bill will eliminate it.  It is still a little unclear if it will affect those currently implementing the strategy, although some amendments to the bill seem to suggest it will only affect those looking to implement in the future.This bill...
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Hiring Household Help? Don't Forget about your FSA.

Since this is the time of year where families may have just made some change to their household help  either for their children or an elderly parent, it is a good time to make sure you are aware if your company offers a Dependent Care Account (Flexible Spending Account).  Below is a case study that summarizes one family’s experience weighing the cost of hiring a nanny for twins vs having one parent stay home.     Household Employment Case Study Hiring Household Help? Don't Forget about your FSA   For most families that hire a nanny or senior caregiver, the best tax break available is a Dependent Care Account (also known as a Flexible Spending Account or FSA). When fully optimized, this tax break generally saves families more than $2,000 per year. This significant tax savings is an important variable to look at - especially when setting a budget for childcare...
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Changes to the Federal Student Aid Process

This month, President Obama announced some significant changes to the FAFSA program starting next year.  One of the key changes to be aware of is changing the date when you are able to submit an application.  Starting next October, you will be able to file as early as October 1st, as opposed to January 1 under the current rules. This change allows students and parents to report income information from the prior tax year.  with it being very difficult for most people to have current year tax information in January each year, this change should help many by making the process more aligned with the timing of available information. Below is a link to more details on these changes from the US Dept of Education.https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-changes
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