Keep your investments from going on ‘vacation’

It’s that time of year when many of us hit the road for a summer vacation. If you are fortunate, you will be joining them — after all, “all work and no play” is a difficult way to live. But while you may not think it beneficial to work all the time, the same can’t be said of your investments and your investment strategy — because, ideally, they should never stop laboring on your behalf.
How can you avoid “taking a vacation” as an investor? Here are a few ideas:

Term vs. permanent insurance: Which is right for you?

What’s your most valuable asset? While you are still working, this asset may actually be your future income, so you need to protect it. And you can do so by maintaining adequate life insurance, which can help provide your family with the financial resources necessary to meet critical expenses — such as mortgage payments, college tuition and so on — should you pass away prematurely.
But what type of insurance should you purchase? There’s no one “right” answer for everyone, but by knowing some of the basics of different polices and how they relate to your specific needs, you can make an informed decision.

Celebrate Father’s Day by investing in your children’s future

Father’s Day is almost here. If you’re a father, especially one with young children, get ready to add to your collection of homemade cards, ties, golf tees or other such gifts designed to please you. Your greatest gift, of course, is your children — and you would doubtlessly get great satisfaction from knowing that you’ve provided them with financial resources that can benefit their lives in many ways. So, why not use this Father’s Day as a starting point for investing in your children’s futures?
Here are a few methods for doing just that:

Make timely adjustments to your 529 plan

If you have school-age children, you might greet the arrival of June with some relief — for at least a few months, you don’t have to worry about “encouraging” kids to do their homework, study for tests, give you their permission slips for field trips, and so on.
But one day, these obligations will give way to a substantially bigger one — paying for college. If you’ve already begun preparing for that day with a tax-advantaged college-savings vehicle, such as a 529 plan, you’re taking a positive step, because higher education is expensive. But it’s not enough to just set up your 529 plan — you may also need to adjust it over time.

Make timely adjustments to your 529 plan

If you have school-age children, you might greet the arrival of June with some relief — for at least a few months, you don’t have to worry about “encouraging” kids to do their homework, study for tests, give you their permission slips for field trips and so on.
But one day, these obligations will give way to a substantially bigger one — paying for college. If you’ve already begun preparing for that day with a tax-advantaged college-savings vehicle — such as a 529 plan — you’re taking a positive step, because higher education is expensive. But it’s not enough to just set up your 529 plan — you may also need to adjust it over time.

Should you make investment moves based on a strong dollar?

Currently, the U.S. dollar is pumped-up and powerful. But what does a strong dollar mean to you, as an investor?
To begin with, it’s important to understand just what is meant by a “strong” dollar. The U.S. dollar does not exist in a vacuum — its value — from a global perspective — is determined by its changing strength relative to that of other currencies.
Let’s look at an example:

‘Step-by-step’ approach can ease estate-planning process

Like many people, you may enjoy investing. After all, it can be invigorating to put away money for your future, follow the performance of your investments and track the progress you’re making toward your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. However, you might be less excited about doing estate planning, dreading the perceived time, effort and cost. Yet, you can make the entire process more manageable by breaking it up into specific tasks.

Goodbye, childcare costs … hello, college savings opportunities

If you’re a working parent, you know firsthand about the difficulties of finding quality, affordable care for your children. But eventually, your kids head off to school, and those child care bills go away, or at least diminish greatly. When that happens, you could start putting away money for another one of your children’s milestones: college.
Just how expensive is child care? Costs vary greatly among the 50 states, but the national average for a 4-year-old at a child care center is approximately $7,880 per year, according to Child Care Aware of America, a child care resource and referral agency sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What could you do with this money once your child enters kindergarten?

Give Mom more than just flowers

Mother’s Day is almost here. This occasion may have special significance for you if you’ve been fortunate enough to have your mother around for your adult life. So naturally, you’ll want to bring Mom some flowers or another gift. But if she’s planning to retire soon, you may want to think about a longer-term way to improve her life — namely, by initiating a conversation about her retirement income strategy.
Of course, she may already have matters well in hand. But a great many people on the verge of retirement have not planned for those years, so you may be able to provide some valuable suggestions. Here are a few ideas:

Researchers disagree on pink/sockeye ‘food fight’

Alaska salmon producers are not buying the presumption that growing numbers of pinks are eating too much food in the ocean, causing sockeye salmon to grow slower and smaller.
That’s the claim of a new study by Seattle and British Columbia researchers, who say the race for food ultimately affects sockeye abundance and survival.
“Our data sets extend up to 55 years each,” said Greg Ruggerone, a researcher at Natural Resources Consultants in Seattle and study co-author. “In looking at productivity or survival of salmon, they’ve included 36 sockeye populations.”

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