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Financial Ink – Editorial Calendar

A Newsletter for General Audiences

October 2018

3.85 million: Number of babies born in the United States in 2017, down 2% from 2016 and the lowest in 30 years.
Are You a Knowledgeable Investor?
On a test of basic investing principles, baby boomers scored higher than younger generations, and men scored higher than women. Only male baby boomers averaged more than 50% correct answers.
Is a Roth 401(k) Right for You?
About 7 out of 10 large and mid-size employers with defined contribution plans offer Roth accounts. This article focuses on some of the benefits of contributing to a Roth 401(k) account option and the requirements needed for a tax-free qualified distribution.
The Tech Sector Could Be Dominating Your Portfolio
The biggest names in technology drove stock market gains and bouts of volatility in 2017 and early 2018. Over time, a core portfolio of diversified equity funds can become overweighted in a sector that has been outperforming the broader market. Some investors might be surprised by the heavy concentration of tech stocks in their portfolios.
Community Property Laws: Yours, Mine, and Ours
The question of asset ownership can be contentious in the event of a divorce, but even in the happiest marriage it may be helpful to understand the laws regarding ownership of property obtained before and during the marriage, especially in community property states.

September 2018

$2.8 million: Estimated value of a bachelor’s degree over a lifetime.
Unemployment Rate Below 4%
In April 2018, the unemployment rate dropped below 4.0% for the first time since 2000 at the height of the dot-com boom. Accompanying chart illustrates the unemployment rate over the last 70 years.
Seven Classic Investing Quotes
Investing can be daunting, and even experienced investors may lose focus or make decisions based on emotion. This article highlights quotes about investing from successful investors, economists, and other insightful thinkers.
Social Security 101
Social Security rules are complex, and the details are often misunderstood even by those who are already receiving benefits. This article provides an overview of basic rules and options that may be helpful, whether readers are looking forward to Social Security in 1 or 30 years.
Choosing and Using a College Checking Account
Attending college requires learning about many aspects of life outside of the classroom, and one of those is managing a checking account. Here are some tips for parents and students to consider, whether they are opening a new account or using an old one.

August 2018

86%: Percentage of families with a college student who said they knew when the student was in preschool (or earlier) that he or she would attend college.
Gen X Not So Happy with Health Plans
In a consumer satisfaction survey, Gen Xers were generally less satisfied with their health-care plans than millennials and baby boomers. Accompanying chart illustrates satisfaction with various aspects of health care for each generation.
Risk Tolerance Is About You, Not the Market
Surveys show that tolerance for investment risk rises and falls with the stock market. This article explains why risk tolerance should be based on an investor’s personal situation, and it looks at several key factors that should be considered when assessing risk tolerance.
Insurance with Potential Cash Value
Universal life and variable universal life insurance combine a death benefit with a tax-advantaged savings element. This article provides an overview of these products, including risks and potential benefits.
An Interesting Quiz
The Federal Open Market Committee appears committed to gradually raising interest rates. This short quiz gives readers an opportunity to test their knowledge of interest rates and how rates can affect the economy and their personal finances.

July 2018

54%: Percentage of Americans who say they are unlikely to use self-driving cars.
Record Debt
U.S. household debt reached a record $13.15 trillion at the end of 2017. The accompanying chart shows mortgage debt and non-mortgage debt over the last 15 years.
ETFs on the Rise
Mutual funds are still king of the investment world, but investor interest in exchange-traded funds has grown quickly over the last decade. This article explains the differences between ETFs and mutual funds, and some of the potential benefits and risks of ETFs.
Making It on Your Own: Financial Tips for Freelancers
A 2017 study estimated that more than 57 million Americans had earned freelance income in the previous 12 months — that’s equivalent to about 36% of the total U.S. workforce. This article provides information on health insurance and retirement plans for self-employed individuals.
Where You Live Affects How Rich You Feel
Cost of living varies widely in the United States and can make a big difference in how far a paycheck stretches. This article provides an overview of cost of living and includes URLs to calculators that can be used to estimate the cost of living in different areas of the country.

June 2018

62%: Percentage of Americans who took a vacation away from home in 2017.
Twenty Years of GDP
U.S. gross domestic product grew by 2.3% in 2017. The accompanying chart shows the annual growth rate for real GDP from 1998 to 2017.
Indexed Annuities: Potential Gain with Some Downside Protection
Indexed annuities offer potential for gain when the market is riding high while helping to protect principal during a downturn. But they are complex products and not appropriate for every investor. This article explains the pros and cons of these annuities.
New Tax Law Expands 529 Savings Plans
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expanded the use of 529 savings plans to be used for K-12 public, private, and religious school tuition. This article provides an overview of these plans, including their traditional use for college saving and the new rules for K-12 expenses.
Read a Good Beige Book Lately?
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book provides a broad overview of the U.S. economy based on anecdotal information collected by staff members in each of the 12 Federal Reserve Bank Districts.

May 2018

$391 million: Value of refund checks mailed to 6.28 million customers by the Federal Trade Commission from July 2016 through June 2017 as a result of enforcement actions against companies that defrauded consumers through illegal practices.
Quality Jobs Available?
In 2017, 56% of Americans said it was a good time to find a quality job, the highest annual average since Gallup began asking the question as part of a monthly poll in 2001. The accompanying chart shows responses to the question over the last decade.
Is Smart Beta Smart for You?
Unlike traditional index funds, smart-beta funds track indexes that are selected and weighted based on factors other than market capitalization. This article outlines the pros and cons of factor-based investing.
Rules of the Rollover
Rolling funds from an employer’s plan to an IRA enables you to maintain control regardless of your employment situation and may give you a wider variety of investment choices. But it’s important to follow IRS rules in order to preserve the tax-advantaged status.
Chained CPI and Your Taxes
One of the most fundamental changes made by tax legislation enacted at the end of 2017 — a new way of measuring inflation — has received relatively little attention but may have a significant effect on individual taxpayers over the long term.

April 2018

More than 60%: Estimated percentage of U.S. personal wealth that will be controlled by women by 2022.
Net Tax Revenue
In FY 2016, the IRS collected $3.3 trillion in gross tax revenue and refunded $0.4 trillion, for a net collection total of $2.9 trillion. Accompanying chart illustrates net collections by type of tax.
2017 Taxes Finished? Time to Think About 2018
With the 2017 tax season winding down, it may be a good time for readers to consider how the new tax law may affect their 2018 taxes. This article outlines the major provisions that apply to individual taxpayers and includes a chart of 2018 federal income tax brackets and income thresholds.
A New Look at Old Retirement Savings Guidelines
Saving for retirement is complicated, so it’s not surprising that a few fundamental guidelines have become popular over the years to help simplify complex concepts. This article takes a critical look at four common guidelines that should be adjusted for specific situations.
Where There’s a Will...
A 2017 survey found that only 42% of U.S. adults — and only 36% of those with children under age 18 — had a will or a living trust. This article explains three basic reasons why everyone should have a will.

March 2018

$2,782: Average tax refund for the 2017 filing season.
Robots: Friend or Foe?
Economists from top U.S. universities were asked to assess the impact that the rising use of robots and artificial intelligence may have on workers in the United States and other advanced economies. Could these advances lead to greater unemployment or benefits from increased productivity that could help compensate workers for lost wages? Accompanying chart illustrates their responses.
Your Home and the Big Picture
In 2017, a widely cited index of national home prices finally reached the peak level set in July 2006 before the housing crisis and the Great Recession. This article presents ideas for readers to consider about how owning a home fits into their broader financial picture.
Dividend Investing: Small Payments Can Boost Returns
Dividends have long been popular with retirees and others who are looking for regular income, but focusing on dividends could be appropriate for almost any investor. This article explains how reinvesting dividends to purchase additional shares can increase total returns.
Pick Your Plastic: Debit or Credit?
Americans use debit cards more often than credit cards, but the total value and average value of credit card transactions are higher than those of debit card transactions. This article outlines some pros and cons for the use of each type of card.

February 2018

35¢: Average cost for the IRS to collect $100 in taxes in FY 2016.
Rising Health Insurance Costs
In 2017, the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance was $6,690 for single coverage and $18,764 for family coverage. Accompanying chart illustrates average premium increases for family coverage over the past 10 years.
Four Financial Numbers You Should Know
This article describes four financial numbers that readers should understand for themselves and that could potentially improve their financial situations: (1) retirement plan contribution rate, (2) credit score, (3) debt-to-income ratio, and (4) net worth.
It’s Tax Time — Prepare with Care
Many Americans dread doing their taxes, and part of that dread may be fear of an audit. This article offers some simple guidelines to help reduce not only stress but the likelihood of an audit.
TIPS for Inflation
The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates signals its belief that inflation is approaching the 2% target rate. One way to help protect investment dollars from inflation is by purchasing Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

January 2018

520,000 to 980,000: Estimated number of vehicles destroyed or damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Searching for a Better You
Only about 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, but many more use the Internet to research how to accomplish their goals. Accompanying chart presents the most popular Internet searches related to New Year’s resolutions.
Options for Inherited IRAs
IRS rules for inheriting retirement accounts are complex, and an uninformed decision could result in unexpected taxes and penalties. This article provides an overview of IRA distribution rules and options for surviving spouses and nonspouse beneficiaries.
Balancing with Bond Funds
An appropriate balance of stocks and bonds is fundamental to building a solid portfolio, but individual bonds are expensive and usually inaccessible to investors who participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans. This article explains the fundamentals of bond mutual funds and bond ETFs, and how they can help balance a portfolio.
How Long Should You Keep Financial Records?
The beginning of the year is also the start of tax filing season, so it’s a great time to organize records and discard old documents to make room for new ones. This article offers guidelines on how long to keep specific types of records.

December 2017

12.8%: Average percentage of total household expenditures spent on food in 2016.
Retirement Savings on the Rise
Average account balances in 401(k) plans and IRAs reached record levels in 2017. This chart compares average account balances in 2012, 2016, and 2017.
International Investing: Opportunities Overseas?
Emerging markets and developing economies account for about three-fourths of global growth, and growth prospects are looking up for more advanced economies outside the United States. This article explores some of the risks and opportunities of international investing.
An Introduction to Trusts
A properly constructed trust can serve many purposes for families — and not just for the wealthy. This article offers basic information about trusts, including testamentary trusts, living trusts, and special-purpose trusts.
Keeping Savings on Track with a Spousal IRA
Time out of the workforce to help care for children can put the caregiving spouse at a disadvantage when it comes to retirement savings. This article outlines IRS rules that allow a working spouse to contribute to an IRA for a spouse who earns little or no income.

November 2017

$4.6 trillion: Estimated amount needed to repair and upgrade U.S. infrastructure.
Health Care Tops Financial Concerns
In mid 2017, 17% of Americans cited health-care costs as the top financial problem facing their families. This chart shows the percentage who cited each of the top 10 financial concerns.
Consider a Roth for Tax-Free Retirement Income
A Roth IRA or designated Roth account in an employer-sponsored plan can provide tax-free retirement income and flexibility when making withdrawals. This article explains how Roth plans differ from traditional IRAs and workplace retirement plans, and the basic rules for withdrawals, conversions, and recharacterizations.
Market Measures: Beyond the Dow
There are hundreds of indexes that track various categories of investments. This article describes five indexes that are often used as benchmarks: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq Composite, the Russell 2000, and the Wilshire 5000.
Celebrate the Season — and Keep Records
Many Americans turn their thoughts to charity during the winter holidays in the spirit of giving — and to obtain an end-of-year tax deduction. This article outlines IRS regulations for deducting charitable contributions.
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