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Steven Elwell, CFP® Quoted by NBC News On Potential Government Shutdown


“If there is a temporary shutdown and the stock market declines because of that, if you’re someone who’s still saving that’s probably good news,” said Steven Elwell, vice president of Level Financial Advisors. “Every paycheck you hit that has 401(k) contributions go in is buying stock at a cheaper price,” he pointed out. Read the full story here...

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One step per month brings you closer to retirement

2018 calendar

Workers in their fifties are headed toward eventual retirement but aren’t there quite yet. However, this is the time to start seriously preparing for an eventual departure from the full-time workforce. Decisions made now will have a positive or negative impact in five or ten years when it is time to retire. Here is a monthly guide for 2018 that will help you take steps now to ensure a comfortable retirement later. January: The holiday hubbub is behind you and now you can spend some time daydreaming about what you want out of retirement. Do you want to stay in your current home and community and travel? Do you want to downsize to a smaller home? Or do you want to move to another part of the country? Picturing your ideal retirement will help you take specific steps over the coming years to help you realize your dream. February: Check up on...

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4 New Year’s Resolutions If You Plan To Retire In 2018


2018 is already upon us and with every new year comes the resolutions. If you’re on the verge of retirement it is even more important to have your financial house in order.  With that thought, I’ve created a list of new year’s resolutions specifically geared to those who plan to retire in 2018.  Those of you who are still a few years away from retirement can also use these tips to get a jump start on planning (reminder: the earlier you start planning the easier it will be). 1) Track your expenses to determine what you need to live on How much money do you need per month to be comfortable? I prefer people calculate this on a monthly basis since many of us can do this with relative ease.  Of course, don’t forget any quarterly or yearly expenses.  This is the most important number when it comes to your retirement.  It...

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4 Examples: How Tax Reform Could Impact You


In Part III of our series on tax reform, we examine four hypothetical scenarios.  The people portrayed are fictional. You should consult your tax professional and financial advisor to understand your specific situation.  To read Part I in our series, describing the basics of the tax reform bill, click here.  For Part II – 8 things you can do NOW before the tax bill kicks in, click here. Want a quick review of your potential tax bill for next year?  Click here to use a basic calculator.   John and Susan John and Susan are 55 and 53 years old respectively.  They have two children, one in a local private high school and another attending Cornell University. John makes $150,000 a year as an executive with a local manufacturing company. Susan is a teacher and makes $80,000.  Both max-out their 401k contributions each year.  They live in western New York in a $320,000 home...

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8 Things You Can Do Now Before the Tax Bill Kicks In


In Part II of our three-part series on the  Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Part I of our series can be found here), we shift our focus to strategies you can deploy before the end of the year to maximize tax efficiency.  As always, you should consult with your tax professional or financial advisor before making any changes to your financial plans. The basis for taking action revolves around four simple principles: Most people will have a lower marginal tax rate next year. Most people will pay less tax overall next year. Some people who itemize now will not be able to itemize next year. Some people will still itemize next year, but those deductions are unlikely to be substantially more than the new standard deduction. 1. Accelerate Charitable Giving Before 2018 If you plan to itemize in 2017, and do not believe you will be able to itemize in 2018, then you should consider accelerating your...

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Major Changes in the Tax Code Ready to Take Hold


With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ready for President Trump’s signature, many Americans are racing to understand a bevy of changes that will impact their 2018 tax return.  After reviewing the new bill, we’ve put together a short list of important changes and developed a three-part series to assist in preparing for the upcoming change. Part I of our series will focus on Tax Cut and Job Act highlights; the essentials of the new code. Part II provides specific strategies people should consider doing now -- in 2017 -- to maximize tax efficiency. Finally, Part III demonstrates a few hypothetical scenarios for tax filers, along with useful links and resources to help navigate the many questions and concerns that the tax change will present. Individual Tax Rates and Brackets The most impactful change involves modification of existing tax brackets and rates. The tax act keeps the total number of tax brackets at seven, but changes thresholds...

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