Category Archives: Cash Management

Is a Home Equity Loan Right for Me? Taxes are becoming an ever-increasing burden to Americans. Through the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Congress reduced or eliminated many of the ways that taxpayers can lower their taxes.

Interest deduction is one of the areas that has been strongly affected by this tax reform legislation. Since tax year 1991, interest on consumer debt has not been deductible for income tax purposes.

In order to minimize the impact of these limitations, it may prove advantageous for you to shift your debt by means of a home equity loan — borrowing money using your home as collateral. The law allows your interest payments on these home equity loans to be fully deductible up to $100,000.

ou are not even compelled to use the money for home improvements. It may be used to clear personal debts, to fund a college education, to pay medical expenses, or to purchase items on a cash rather than a credit basis. The real benefit to you is the deductibility of the interest payments.

The IRS has some limitations on the amount you can deduct, and it depends on several factors such as the date of the mortgage, the amount of the mortgage and how you use the proceeds.

The IRS has three categories of mortgages that qualify for a tax deduction:

Grandfathered debt refers to all mortgages taken out before Oct. 13, 1987.

Home acquisition debt includes mortgages taken out after Oct. 13, 1987, that were used to buy, build or improve your home. Throughout the year, these mortgages, plus the “grandfathered debt” mortgage, must total $1 million or less for them to qualify as a deduction. However, if you are married filing separately, the limit is $500,000.

Home equity debt includes mortgages taken out after Oct. 13, 1987, that were not used to buy, build or improve your home. But these mortgages qualify only if throughout the year they totaled $100,000 or less ($50,000 or less if married filing separately). Additionally, they must not have totaled more than the fair market value of your home, reduced by “grandfathered debt” and “home acquisition debt.”

If your mortgage interest meets these criteria, then it is deductible.

Bear in mind that home equity loans are generally repayable over 15 years. Other types of debt tend to have a shorter repayment period. As a result, the total amount of interest paid may be higher with home equity loans. However, the interest rates on a home equity loan, including origination fees, tend to be significantly lower than other consumer debt.

If you do not require a large sum, you may be interested in establishing a “home equity line of credit.” You only withdraw the money as you need it, so your interest payments are reduced.

You must examine these options carefully, however, recognizing that these loans are secured by your home.

Also, if you use a home equity loan to pay off credit card debt, consider canceling most of your credit cards to avoid the temptation to build new debt.

Before moving ahead, determine whether this shifting of debt is in your best interest, and seek professional advice on whether it will subject you to the alternative minimum tax.

If debt-shifting is suitable for you, consider taking advantage of these cost-effective means to borrow money.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

How Does Inflation Affect Me? Are you saving for retirement? For your children’s education? For any other long-term goal? If so, you’ll want to know about a sometimes subtle, yet very real threat to your savings: inflation.

Inflation is the increase in the price of products over time. Inflation rates have fluctuated over the years. Sometimes inflation runs high, and other times it is hardly noticeable. The short-term changes aren’t the real issue. The real issue is the effects of long-term inflation.

Over the long term, inflation erodes the purchasing power of your income and wealth. That means that even as you save and invest, your accumulated wealth buys less and less, just with the mere passage of time. And those who put off saving and investing will be even deeper in the hole.

What Can You Do About Inflation?

The effects of inflation can’t be denied — yet there are ways to fight them.

Historically, one of the best ways has been to utilize growth-oriented alternatives. Stocks, stock mutual funds, variable annuities, and variable universal life insurance may be options to consider. These alternatives provide the potential for returns that exceed inflation over the long term.

Growth-oriented alternatives carry more risk than other types of investments. Over the long term, however, they may help you stave off the effects of inflation and realize your financial goals.

As you focus on growth, remember that prudent investing calls for diversification. Don’t risk all your wealth in aggressive investments. Consider other alternatives to balance your portfolio, and choose all your investments with an eye toward your tolerance for investment risk.

The return and principal value of stocks and stock mutual funds fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

There are contract limitations, fees, and charges associated with variable annuities, which can include mortality and expense risk charges, sales and surrender charges, administrative fees, and charges for optional benefits. Withdrawals reduce annuity contract benefits and values. Variable annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency; they are not deposits of, nor are they guaranteed or endorsed by, any bank or savings association. Withdrawals of annuity earnings are taxed as ordinary income and may be subject to surrender charges plus a 10 percent federal income tax penalty if made prior to age 59½. Any guarantees are contingent on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. The investment return and principal value of an investment option are not guaranteed. Because variable annuity subaccounts fluctuate with changes in market conditions, the principal may be worth more or less than the original amount invested when the annuity is surrendered.

The cash value of a variable universal life insurance policy is not guaranteed. The investment return and principal value of the variable subaccounts will fluctuate. Your cash value, and perhaps the death benefit, will be determined by the performance of the chosen subaccounts. Withdrawals may be subject to surrender charges and are taxable if you withdraw more than your basis in the policy. Policy loans or withdrawals will reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit , and may require additional premium payments to keep the policy in force.

Mutual funds, variable annuities, and variable universal life insurance are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

What Savings Alternatives Are Available? As an investor, it’s important to have a portion of your holdings in savings. Opinions differ, but most financial advisors agree that adequate savings should form the basis of any sound investment strategy. There are a number of savings alternatives that will help you accumulate adequate savings and earn a reasonable rate of return.

Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit are really just short-term loans to a bank, credit union, or savings and loan. They offer a moderate rate of return and more safety because they are insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured institution in interest and principal.

Asset Management Accounts

These accounts are much like checking accounts, except that they may be held by a brokerage instead of a bank. You can use your money to trade stocks and bonds and buy into money market funds. Many brokerages will automatically sweep your earnings into a money market account.

Series EE Savings Bonds

For many years, when bonds were mentioned, people thought of U.S. savings bonds. Series EE savings bonds are sold in par values that range from $50 to $10,000 if purchased in paper form or from $50 to $5,000 if purchased electronically. Tax on the interest is deferred until maturity and may be eliminated if the proceeds are used to pay for a college education.

I Savings Bonds

These bonds are designed to offer protection from inflation. By linking the return of the bonds to an inflation index, the bonds are always guaranteed to earn a fixed rate above the inflation rate. They are a sort of hybrid between Treasury Inflation Indexed bonds (which are issued as marketable securities) and EE bonds. I bonds can be purchased at banks where EE bonds are currently sold or electronically. They are available in $50, $75, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, and $5,000 denominations. You can purchase up to $5,000 per Social Security number per year.

Money Market Funds

In a money market fund, your investment is pooled with that of other investors. The resulting fund is invested in a diverse portfolio of short-term debt securities. Money market funds offer a high level of safety and moderate income.

Money market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in money market funds.

Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

Interest-Bearing Checking Accounts

These accounts combine the interest-earning capability of a savings account with the check-writing convenience of a checking account. They are offered through many banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. Some charge a fee if you fail to maintain a minimum balance.

Treasury Bills

Treasury bills are literally short-term loans to the federal government. They are sold at a discount off their face value in maturities of three months, six months, and one year. The interest on Treasury bills is exempt from state and local income taxes. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. The principal value will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and, if not held to maturity, T-bills may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

What About Financial Aid for College? Is the financial aid game worth playing? There’s a tremendous amount of paperwork involved. The rules are obscure and often don’t seem to make sense. And it takes time.

But make no mistake, the game is definitely worth playing. Financial aid can be a valuable source of funds to help finance your child’s college education.

And you don’t necessarily have to be “poor” to qualify. In some circumstances, families with incomes of $75,000 or more can qualify.

U.S. Government Grants

The federal government provides student aid through a variety of programs. The most prominent of these are Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs).

Pell Grants are administered by the U.S. government. They are awarded on the basis of college costs and a financial aid eligibility index. The eligibility index takes into account factors such as family income and assets, family size, and the number of college students in the family.

By law, Pell Grants can provide up to $5,775 per student for the 2015-2016 award year.1 However, only about 27 percent of recipients currently qualify for the maximum. The average grant was $3,673 in 2014-2015.2 Students must reapply every year to receive aid.

Most colleges will not process applications for Stafford loans until needy students have applied for Pell Grants. Students with Pell Grants also receive priority consideration for FSEOGs.

Students who can demonstrate severe financial need may also receive a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. FSEOGs award up to $4,000 per year per student.

State Grants

Many states offer grant programs as well. Each state’s grant program is different, but they do tend to award grants exclusively to state residents who are planning to attend an in-state school. Many give special preference to students planning to attend a state school.

College Grants

Finally, many colleges and universities offer specialized grant programs. This is particularly true of older schools with many alumni and large endowments. These grants are usually based on need or scholastic ability. Consult the college or university’s financial aid office for full details.

1) U.S. Department of Education, 2015;  2) The College Board, 2015

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

What Are Some Smart Ways to Refinance? Recently, fixed mortgages were near their lowest rates in almost 30 years. And if you are one of the many people who took out mortgages in the few years prior to that, you may be wondering if you should look into refinancing.

If your mortgage was taken out within the past five years, it may be worthwhile to refinance if you can get financing that is at least one to two points lower than your current interest rate. You should plan on staying in the house long enough to pay off the loan transaction charges (points, title insurance, attorney’s fees, etc.).

A fixed-rate mortgage could be your best bet in a rising interest rate environment, if you plan to stay in the house for several years. An adjustable mortgage may suit you if you will be moving within a few years, but you need to ensure that you will be able to handle increasingly higher payments should interest rates rise.

One way to use mortgage refinancing to your advantage is to take out a new mortgage for the same duration as your old mortgage. The lower interest rate will result in lower monthly payments.

For example, if you took out a $150,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 7.5 percent (including transaction charges), your monthly payment is now $1,049. Refinance at 6 percent with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of $150,000 (including transaction fees), and your payment will be $899 per month. That’s a savings of $150 per month, which you can then use to invest, add to your retirement fund, or do with it whatever you please.

Another option is to exchange your old mortgage for a shorter-term loan. Your 30-year fixed-rate payment on a $150,000 loan was $1,049 per month. If you refinance with a 15-year fixed mortgage for $150,000 — including transaction costs — at 6 percent, your monthly payment will be $1,266. This payment is only $217 more than your previous mortgage, but your home will be fully paid for several years sooner, for a savings of more than $150,000! And some banks around the country are beginning to offer 10- and 20-year mortgages.

Either way you look at it, it’s an attractive idea.

If you’re considering refinancing your mortgage, consult your financial advisor and determine whether refinancing your home would be a good move for you.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

What Is a Reverse Mortgage? Many Americans facing retirement would love to increase their monthly income.

Faced with fixed pensions, rising medical expenses, limited Social Security benefits, and longer life spans, an increasing number of people are actually being forced to lower their standards of living when they retire.

As you approach retirement, one of your major assets is likely to be your house. By the time the average person retires, his or her home is usually worth significantly more than he or she paid for it.

Now there are techniques that will enable you to use your property to finance your lifestyle without the emotional trauma of having to sell your home.

Reverse mortgages effectively allow you to annuitize your house. All borrowers must be at least 62 years of age for most reverse mortgages. You may decide to receive a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life. This is tax-free because it comes in the form of a loan. You don’t even have the worry of repaying the money. It is only due upon the death of the surviving spouse with the sale of your property.

Owners generally must occupy the home as their principal residence (where they live the majority of the year).

The monthly payment you receive is computed using standard annuity methods that take into account your age and life expectancy. In addition, the current and projected future value of your property and the amount of equity in your house that you wish to assign to the loan company are considered.

For example, you may choose to take the loan against only 50 percent of the equity stake in your house. This would obviously cause a reduction in the size of your monthly check.

All reverse mortgages turn your home into three things: loan advances paid to you; loan costs paid to the lender and others; and leftover equity, if any, paid to you or your heirs at the end of the loan.

If property prices decline after you take out the loan, it will not affect the remainder of your estate. In such circumstances, the lending company bears the loss. This is similar to a traditional annuity in which the insurance company bears the loss of continuing annuity payments in the event that you live past your life expectancy.

You do need to exercise some caution before undertaking a reverse mortgage. As you continue to own your home, you are still responsible for property taxes, insurance, and repairs. There are costs associated with a reverse mortgage that can include an application fee, closing costs, and a monthly servicing fee. The federally insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is generally less expensive than other private-sector reverse mortgages. You should carefully consider the costs and consult with a professional who can explain the full implications. If you decide to back out of the contract, the surrender charges can be very steep.

If they fit in with your temperament and lifestyle objectives, reverse mortgages can be an alternative tax-free means of increasing your monthly income during your retirement years.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

What Advantages Does a Biweekly Mortgage Offer? One of the most precious assets that you are likely to possess as you progress through life is your home. Owning their own homes is something that most Americans strive for.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people, one of the major drawbacks in owning a home is the long-term mortgage that must be paid off. Mortgages often stretch out 30 years with interest and principal repayments.

Most mortgage repayments are made on a monthly basis. However, arranging to make payments biweekly can have a dramatic effect on the amount of money you have to pay and the time frame before it is all paid off.

Under a biweekly mortgage, instead of making the payments once a month, you make half the payment every two weeks. If your mortgage is $1,000 per month, under a biweekly system it would be $500 every two weeks.

You make 26 payments per year, which is the equivalent of 13 monthly payments rather than 12. The extra payment should be taken directly off the principal, reducing the payment schedule accordingly.

The effect of biweekly mortgage payments can be dramatic. For example, if you currently have a $150,000 loan at 8 percent fixed interest, you will have paid approximately $396,233 at the end of 30 years.

However, if you use a biweekly payment system, you will pay $331,859 and have it completely paid off in 21.6 years. You save $64,374 and pay the loan off 8.4 years earlier!

The savings you realize using a biweekly payment schedule can save you nearly half of what it cost to buy the house in the first place.

An increasing number of mortgage companies are now offering a biweekly payment option. It is even possible to convert your current monthly payments into a biweekly schedule.

Some companies will attempt to charge you to refinance the loan. However, this is not always the case and shopping around can save you money in refinancing charges.

Be wary of independent companies offering to do this for you for a fee — you can do it for yourself for free.

You should receive professional financial advice when considering switching to a biweekly mortgage payment schedule.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

How Can I Better Manage My Short-Term Cash? For the vast majority of people, it is essential to keep a portion of their assets in liquid form in order to meet monthly commitments.

For example, most families have to meet their mortgage or rent payments, grocery, utility, and transportation bills out of their monthly paychecks. There are a host of other expenses that arise from month to month, such as auto insurance, that help keep the pressure on the family cash flow.

If people are fortunate enough to have anything left over once all the expenses have been met, then they can worry about saving or investing for the future.

The paychecks that you deposit in your checking account, which seem to swiftly disappear as you pay monthly expenses, constitute a portion of your short-term cash. The money is no sooner in your bank account than it flows out again as payment for goods and services.

However, because the money that we use to meet our monthly expenses is so liquid, there is a tendency to simply look at it as a method of payment. We often leave more than we need in our checking accounts, gaining little or no interest until we need it for a future expense.

By actively managing the short-term cash that passes through your hands, you can provide a means of saving for the future. You can use this money to increase your net worth with little or no additional risk to your principal.

Short-term investment instruments, such as Treasury bills, certificates of deposit, and money market mutual funds, can provide you with the liquidity needed to meet expected and unexpected expenses and to increase your short-term investment income.

There are numerous alternatives available to enable you to get your short-term cash working for you. The key to successfully managing your short-term cash lies in understanding the alternatives and choosing the one most appropriate to your particular needs and circumstances.

Treasury bills are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. Bank CDs are insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured institution in interest and principal.

Money market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in money market funds.

Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

How Do Money Market Mutual Funds Work? Just like individuals, the government, corporations, and banks often need to borrow money for a short time to make ends meet. Unlike most individuals, however, the scale of this borrowing is phenomenal.

The money market is the name given to the arena where most of this short-term borrowing takes place. In the money market, money is both borrowed and lent for short periods of time.

For example, a bank might have to borrow millions of dollars overnight to ensure that it meets federal reserve requirements. Loans in the money market can stretch from one day to one year or beyond. The interest rate is fundamentally determined by supply and demand, the length of the loan, and the credit standing of the borrower.

The money market was traditionally only open to large institutions. Unless you had a spare $100,000 lying around, you couldn’t participate.

However, during the inflationary era of the 70s, when interest rates sky-rocketed, people began to demand greater returns on their liquid funds. Leaving money in a bank deposit account at 5 percent interest made little sense with inflation running at 12 percent. The money market was returning significantly higher rates but the vast majority of people were prohibited from participating by the sheer scale of the investment required.

And so, the first money market mutual fund came into being. By pooling shareholders’ funds, it was possible for individuals to receive the rewards of participating in the money market. Because of their large size, mutual funds were able to make investments and receive rates of return that individual investors couldn’t get on their own.

Money market mutual funds typically purchase highly liquid investments with varying maturities, so there is cash flow to meet investor demand to redeem shares. You can withdraw your money at any time.

For a minimum investment, sometimes as low as $500, money market mutual funds will allow you to write checks. The check-writing feature is most often used to transfer cash to a traditional checking account when additional funds are needed. These funds are useful as highly liquid, cash emergency, short-term investment vehicles.

Money market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in money market funds.

Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

What Cash Management Tools Are Available? There are a number of short-term cash management instruments available to the individual establishing a sound cash management program. These alternatives include money market mutual funds, Treasury bills, and certificates of deposit.

Money market mutual funds simply pool investors’ dollars and purchase large denomination money market instruments. Individuals invest in the mutual fund for as little as $500 and receive the advantageous short-term rates.

These money market funds are totally liquid and may be accessed by check, debit card, telephone, or wire transfer.

Money market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in money market funds.

Mutual funds are sold only by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

Treasury bills are simply IOUs issued by the U.S. government to meet its short- term need for cash. They generally have maturities ranging from 90 days to one year.

The minimum face value of Treasury bills is $10,000, which makes them one of the least costly items in the money market. However, they are sold at a discount to face value with the full face amount being paid upon maturity. The difference between the discounted price you pay for the Treasury bill and the face value you receive at maturity is the interest, or yield.

Treasury bills are generally regarded as one of the safest investments available because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest.

There is an active secondary market in Treasury bills, so if you need access to your money instantly, you should have little difficulty in selling them. As with any investment traded in a secondary market prior to maturity, there is the opportunity for capital loss or capital gain, depending on the direction of interest rates.

An added advantage of Treasury bills is that they are free from local and state taxes.

Another relatively safe investment instrument is the traditional certificate of deposit (CD) that you may purchase from your local bank. Federally insured for up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured institution in interest and principal, CDs offer you a fixed interest rate for depositing your money for a specific period of time. If you withdraw your money before that period is up, you may be subject to interest rate penalties.

CDs may also be purchased through most brokerage firms. The brokerage firm will shop the market and find the most attractive rate for you, even if it is out of state. This is something you might find difficult to do on your own. CDs purchased this way are called Brokered CDs.

CDs are most suitable for purchasing and holding to maturity. However, you may find it necessary to dispose of CDs prior to maturity. An important distinction between Brokered CDs and Bank CDs is the different means for early redemption. With a Bank CD, should you redeem your CD early, you will typically be assessed an early withdrawal penalty. Brokered CDs trade in the secondary market which provides you with the opportunity to sell your CD at prevailing market prices, which may be worth more or less than the original amount you invested.

Brokered CDs are more complex and carry more risks than CDs offered directly by banks. Brokered CDs may not be suitable for all investors. Before you purchase a Brokered CD, make sure you fully understand all of its terms and carefully read its disclosure materials provided by your financial professional.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

How Long Will It Take to Double My Money? Before making any investment decision, one of the key elements you face is working out the real rate of return on your investment.

Compound interest is critical to investment growth. Whether your financial portfolio consists solely of a deposit account at your local bank or a series of highly leveraged investments, your rate of return is dramatically improved by the compounding factor.

With simple interest, interest is paid just on the principal. With compound interest, the return that you receive on your initial investment is automatically reinvested. In other words, you receive interest on the interest.

But just how quickly does your money grow? The easiest way to work that out is by using what’s known as the “Rule of 72.”1 Quite simply, the “Rule of 72” enables you to determine how long it will take for the money you’ve invested on a compound interest basis to double. You divide 72 by the interest rate to get the answer.

For example, if you invest $10,000 at 10 percent compound interest, then the “Rule of 72” states that in 7.2 years you will have $20,000. You divide 72 by 10 percent to get the time it takes for your money to double. The “Rule of 72” is a rule of thumb that gives approximate results. It is most accurate for hypothetical rates between 5 and 20 percent.

While compound interest is a great ally to an investor, inflation is one of the greatest enemies. The “Rule of 72” can also highlight the damage that inflation can do to your money.

Let’s say you decide not to invest your $10,000 but hide it under your mattress instead. Assuming an inflation rate of 4.5 percent, in 16 years your $10,000 will have lost half of its value.

The real rate of return is the key to how quickly the value of your investment will grow. If you are receiving 10 percent interest on an investment but inflation is running at 4 percent, then your real rate of return is 6 percent. In such a scenario, it will take your money 12 years to double in value.

The “Rule of 72” is a quick and easy way to determine the value of compound interest over time. By taking the real rate of return into consideration (nominal interest less inflation), you can see how soon a particular investment will double the value of your money.

The Rule of 72 is a mathematical concept, and the hypothetical return illustrated is not representative of a specific investment. Also note that the principal and yield of securities will fluctuate with changes in market conditions so that the shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.The Rule of 72 does not include adjustments for income or taxation. It assumes that interest is compounded annually. Actual results will vary.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

How Can I Keep My Money from Slipping Away? As with virtually all financial matters, the easiest way to be successful with a cash management program is to develop a systematic and disciplined approach.

By spending a few minutes each week to maintain your cash management program, you not only have the opportunity to enhance your current financial position, but you can save yourself some money in tax preparation, time, and fees.

Any good cash management system revolves around the four As — Accounting, Analysis, Allocation, and Adjustment.

Accounting quite simply involves gathering all your relevant financial information together and keeping it close at hand for future reference. Gathering all your financial information — such as mortgage payments, credit card statements, and auto loans — and listing it systematically will give you a clear picture of your overall situation.

Analysis boils down to reviewing the situation once you have accounted for all your income and expenses. You will almost invariably find yourself with either a shortfall or a surplus. One of the key elements in analyzing your financial situation is to look for ways to reduce your expenses. This can help to free up cash that can either be invested for the long term or used to pay off fixed debt.

For example, if you were to reduce restaurant expenses or spending on non-essential personal items by $100 per month, you could use this extra money to prepay the principal on your mortgage. On a $130,000 30-year mortgage, this extra $100 per month could enable you to pay it off 10 years early and save you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Allocation involves determining your financial commitments and priorities and distributing your income accordingly. One of the most important factors in allocation is to distinguish between your real needs and your wants. For example, you may want a new home entertainment center, but your real need may be to reduce outstanding credit card debt.

Adjustment involves reviewing your income and expenses periodically and making the changes that your situation demands. For example, as a new parent, you might be wise to shift some assets in order to start a college education fund for your child.

Using the four As is an excellent way to help you monitor your financial situation to ensure that you are on the right track to meet your long-term goals.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC