Avoiding charity scams.

There are only a couple of weeks left in this holiday season and for all of the consuming and buying that’s going on, there’s also the important tradition of giving. December is the time of year that charitable giving reaches its peak — of the billions of dollars donated annually, 12% happens during the last three days of the year.1 In fact, Dec. 31 is the single biggest day for online donations.2 There are thousands of groups you could donate to, but sadly, there are some that are more prone to scamming you out of your money than doing any real good. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to help determine who’s naughty and nice — and make sure your money is going to the right place.

Beware of sound-alike names.

As an example, there are two groups that focus on helping children — the Children’s Charity Fund and the Children’s Defense Fund. They sound alike, but there is a big difference in their credibility — according to Charity Navigator, an organization that investigates and reviews charities, Children’s Charity Fund has a rating of zero stars while Children’s Defense Fund has a rating of four stars.

The same warning applies to scammer emails. You might receive a message asking for a donation that includes a web address that’s just one or two letters away from a real charity’s name — for example, spcca.org instead of spca.org.

Know who’s benefiting.

Some charities spend significantly more on salaries and fundraising events than they actually spend on their intended recipients. As a rule of thumb, at least 75% of the money an organization brings in should make it to their programs and services. Before you write a check or donate online, always look for the charity’s mission statement as well as their financial statement on their website. If you can’t find any financial information, that’s a big red flag and you should think twice before donating.

Use charity reviewers.

Third-party organizations can be helpful when it comes to evaluating charities. One of the most-respected is Charity Navigator — they rate almost 8,000 of the largest charities in the U.S. and provide information on those charities’ ratings, budgets, tax-exempt status, and IRS forms. They’ve placed almost 200 charities on their warning list and they always have a top ten list of the most over-paid charities in the nation. You can visit their website at www.charitynavigator.org.

Another resource is your city’s Better Business Bureau (BBB). Each year, the BBB provides its communities with tools that tie back to its Wise Giving Alliance and are designed to protect consumers. You can find more information about the BBB’s charity reviews at www.give.org.

Charitable giving is an important and rewarding part of the season, so don’t get swindled by any Scrooges in disguise — do your due diligence and make sure your money goes where it’s most-deserved!


1Charity Navigator. (2014). Online Giving Statistics. Retrieved December 1, 2016, from https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1360
2MobileCause. (2016, January 21). Mobile Engagement Works. Retrieved December 1, 2016, from https://www.mobilecause.com/year-end-fundraising/
This report contains references and links to Charity Navigator and www.give.org, websites not owned or operated by Financial Engines. Financial Engines provides this resource solely as a convenience. The reference and appearance of the Charity Navigator or www.give.org websites do not imply endorsement by Financial Engines, nor is Financial Engines responsible for its content. While Financial Engines believes the information is accurate and reliable, we are not responsible for its accuracy. 

Putting your year-end bonus to work for you.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who receives a year-end bonus, you’re likely thinking about how to spend it. Vacation? Shopping spree? It’s hard to fight the urge to splurge if you don’t have a plan for the money you’ve worked so hard for this year. Here are some ways you can make your bonus work for you now — and for your financial future.

Pay off your credit card debt.

High-interest debt can be financially crippling and getting rid of it as soon as possible is one of the most beneficial financial moves you can make. The average credit card variable interest rate was 16.23% as of Dec. 14, 20161 — and payments on interest alone can add up fast. If you can reduce what you owe now, you’ll have more money later. Just think about what you might be able to do in the future with that extra cash.

Invest in yourself.

You’ve worked hard for your year-end bonus and you should reward yourself. But instead of a new luxury item, how about learning a new skill? It may not be flashy, but it can help you grow personally and professionally, boost your value to your employer and potentially increase your future bonus potential.

Create an emergency fund.

Life is tough enough without having to pay for unplanned home repairs and medical emergencies. That’s not news to the more than 55% of employees nationwide who are worried they won’t have enough money available when the unexpected occurs.2 An emergency fund can help. Why not use some of your year-end bonus to create one and save yourself some anxiety later?

Pay it forward.

Research suggests that charitable giving can positively affect health and happiness — and in addition, it could also reduce your taxes when you report your contributions on your itemized return.3

A year-end bonus can be a gift that keeps giving, but only if you make the most of it. Call us if you have questions about any of these approaches. We’re here to help you make the most of your future with a financial plan that can help you reach your goals.


Current Credit Card Interest Rates. Bankrate. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/current-interest-rates.aspx
2 (April 2016) 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey. PWC. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.pwc.com/us/en/private-company-services/publications/assets/pwc-2016-employee-wellness-survey.pdf
3 (15 November 2016). Wanna Give? This Is Your Brain on a ‘Helper’s High.’ Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/11/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/

Three financial items to put on your end-of-year to-do list.

This time of year, our lives can become full of to-do lists — gifts to buy for loved ones, grocery runs to stock up for the next celebration, and let’s not forget the biggest to-do list of all: your New Year’s resolutions. With all of the holiday whirl, however, it’s easy to forget about your financial to-do list. This year, make sure you include these three important steps.

Max out your retirement savings plan contribution.

The maximum amount an individual can contribute to a 401(k) plan in 2017 is $18,000 if they’re under the age of 50 and $24,000 if they’re 50 or older. The maximum amount an individual can contribute to an IRA in 2017 is $5,500 if they’re under the age of 50 and $6,500 if they’re 50 or older. If you haven’t yet reached your contribution limit, try to direct some dollars into those accounts. Your future self will thank you.

Make a “13th payment” on the principal of your mortgage.

Making an extra payment at the end of each year can help accelerate the total process of paying off your house and could help free you up financially once you reach retirement. After all, if you have fewer mortgage payments once your working days are over, you’ll have more money to spend on things like health care or a trip with the grandkids.

Optimize taxes.

If you have a taxable brokerage account, your advisor can help you balance any losses with any gains you may have in order to help minimize the tax bill you’ll owe in 2018. Essentially, you’ll want to sell off taxable investments that have losses, which reduces the gain that other assets in your account may have produced throughout the year — which in turn can help shrink the amount of taxes you’ll pay on your gains for the year. Also known as “tax harvesting,” the process can be fairly complex to do correctly, so you’ll want to seek the help of a professional to cross this item off your to-do list.

Lists can be an important part of staying on track at any time of the year, but they become especially important in December.

This year, don’t forget to include these key financial tasks on your to-do list. They may not be as festive as putting up lights or planning for the next holiday celebration, but they’ll ultimately be helpful in achieving a goal that can be enjoyable any time of year: financial security.



Don’t confuse saving and investing.

“Saving” and “investing” are terms that, while related, refer to different actions.

Don’t confuse the two, for each can lead to a very different outcome from the other. If you save money when you should be investing it, or vice versa, you could be severely handicapping your ability to reach your financial goals.
Think of saving as putting money aside toward a short-term goal — one you want to achieve in one to three years or less. Holiday shopping or a down payment on a new car are examples of short-term goals toward which you’d want to save. Investing, on the other hand, is putting money aside for a bigger long-term goal at least five years away, such as your child’s college education or your retirement.


Effectively saving toward a short-term goal means keeping your money in a safe place where you can get to it when you need it. While the money you save may earn interest, rates tend to be so low that any earnings would be practically negligible. But that’s okay — the trade-off is that your money is safe and accessible. If you are saving for a vacation, for instance, you need to know that every single dollar you put away toward that vacation will be sitting right there when it’s time to start packing your bags.

Checking accounts, savings accounts, and short-term certificates of deposit (CDs) can be good vehicles for saving money, but make sure any account you choose is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC protects the funds people deposit in banks and savings associations by insuring up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each type of account. That means your money is safe. So safe, in fact, that since the FDIC was established in 1933, no depositor has lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds. Because accessibility is important too, also check the withdrawal terms and conditions up front to confirm you’ll be able to get your money back out without penalty when you’ll need it.


A long-term financial goal typically requires more money than you could comfortably afford to save out-of-pocket. Instead, you invest with the hope that over time, the money you put aside will grow by generating returns. Unlike saving, investing goes hand-in-hand with risk: the more you want your money to grow, the more risk you’ll likely have to take on. And because investing tends to be a long-term process, some investments make it difficult to quickly access the money you’ve put into them. The real advantage here is the potential for higher returns than you’d see from a savings account.

When you invest, you use your money to buy an asset you believe will generate a positive return over time. Your initial investment earns money if you sell an asset at a higher price than you paid for it. Stocks and mutual funds are considered attractive long-term investment options, but they can be quite volatile and thus susceptible to short-term drops in value. Whether you put your money into stocks and mutual funds or into real estate and comic books, all investment vehicles have some degree of risk and generally require a long-term commitment. So, do your research and invest your money wisely.

Use the right strategy.

Now that you know the difference between saving and investing, do not mix the two up by funding your short-term goals with money you’ve invested rather than saved. For example, if you view the money in your 401(k) account as savings, you may not see anything wrong with borrowing some for a down payment on a house or car. But imagine you’re planning to retire in 30 years when you decide to borrow $5,000 from your 401(k) account. That $5,000 loan at 5% interest could result in $52,000 less at retirement than you’d have if you hadn’t taken a loan.1 That’s a loss of more than 10 times the original loan value thanks to the hit your earnings potential — which is the primary reason for investing — would take.

Likewise, don’t make the mistake of taking money you’re going to need in the relatively near future and tying it up by investing it. It’s simply too risky to treat the short-term savings you should be protecting like long-term investments that could drop dramatically in value.

To cover your bases, make sure your financial strategy includes saving and investing.

Invest for the long-term and save for specific short-term goals. For example, if you know you’ll need money for the holidays each year, open a savings account just for the holiday season and automatically deposit a small amount from each paycheck. When you get itchy for a nice vacation or a new car, do the same thing — open a savings account specifically intended to fund that goal.  Don’t forget to account for the unexpected needs that are bound to crop up and could lead you to dip into your investment accounts. Be proactive and start building an emergency fund instead.

If you’re not sure whether you should be saving or investing toward a particular goal, remember the basics: if it’s a short-term goal for which you need to protect and be able to access your money, start saving. If it’s a bigger long-term goal for which you’re willing to risk safety in exchange for growth potential, then consider investing. If you’re still not sure what to do (or how best to do it), speak with a financial advisor who can help.

1Assumes participant with initial account balance of $20,000 takes out a $5000 loan at the age of 35 and repays it in 5 years; participant contributes $150 per paycheck (including loan payment during loan period); 8% return on 401(k) account. (https.//www.principal.com/retirement/ind/planning/401kloan.htm?WT.ac=homeWWYD401kloan)

Roth IRA conversion decision not the same for everyone.

Are you a candidate for converting your traditional IRA(s) or other qualified assets to a Roth IRA? If you’re like most investors, your answer isn’t a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Roth IRAs offer the possibility of tax-free retirement income if managed properly. They also generally have fewer restrictions on distributions and withdrawals. Because of this, you may find they offer more flexibility than a traditional IRA as you plan for your retirement income needs.

Before making a change, you should consider the upsides of a conversion as well as the downsides, which include tax implications. Any pre-tax money you convert to a Roth IRA is treated as ordinary income and taxed at applicable federal and state income tax rates. Anyone is eligible to make a transfer, and, under current tax law, the highest federal tax rate on ordinary income is 39.6%. Taxes aren’t due until you file your return in April of the year after you do your conversion.

The following questions, answers, and table include some other things to consider before making a decision. Please note that this information is for general purposes only. You should consult an accountant to see if converting qualified assets to a Roth IRA makes sense for you.

Things to consider.

  • Do you have money set aside for the taxes you’ll have to pay when you convert? If you don’t have other assets to pay for the income tax owed on a conversion, you may be able to use some of the converted assets to pay your taxes. However, you’ll be subject to an additional 10% penalty if you’re under the age of 59½.
  • Would you be better off investing that money? If you have ‘extra’ money set aside to pay taxes on a conversion, consider what else you could be doing with that money, such as investing. If you use that money now to pay taxes, you’ll be giving up the opportunity to invest and potentially grow your money. Does the benefit of fewer restrictions on future withdrawals outweigh the investment growth potential?
  • Will the asset conversion affect your existing tax benefits? The extra income from a Roth IRA conversion may move you into a higher tax bracket. Depending on your situation, this could disqualify you from other tax benefits such as the dependent child or college tuition tax credits.
  • Are you too old for a conversion? There are no age restrictions to meet in order to convert your money, but timing makes a difference. If you expect to withdraw money from your Roth IRA in the near future, you may not have much time left for your assets to grow on a tax-free basis. You should also consider your current tax bracket: Will you be paying at a higher rate now than you would if you waited until retirement to pay?
  • Is it safe to assume that withdrawals from Roth IRAs will always be tax-free? No one can say for sure. If you believe there’s a chance the federal government will someday impose a tax on Roth IRA withdrawals, would you still find a benefit in this type of arrangement?

Comparing traditional and Roth IRAs.

Traditional IRA

Roth IRA

Who can make contributions? Wage-earners under age 70½ at end of calendar year. Wage-earners of any age with restrictions based on tax-filing status and annual modified adjusted gross income AGI.
Are contributions deductible? Yes, but with restrictions based on tax-filing status, annual modified AGI, and access to a workplace retirement plan. No.
Annual contribution limit $5,500 ($6,500 if 50 or older); limited to lesser of earned income or contribution limit. Same as traditional IRA.
Offers tax-free compounded income? No. Yes.
Taxes on withdrawals of contributions and earnings Withdrawals are taxed; tax liability based on deductibility of original contributions. Withdrawals of contributions aren’t taxed; earnings generally are taxed if taken before age 59½ and if they don’t meet the five-year holding period requirement.
Early withdrawal penalty 10% on most withdrawals before age 59½. Withdrawals of contributions are not penalized; 10% penalty on withdrawal of earnings 1.) before age 59½ or 2.) not meeting tax-year holding period requirements.
Required minimum distributions (RMDs) at age 70½ Yes. No; exceptions possible upon death of account owner.

Like most aspects of personal finance, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not you should convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Consider your unique situation, understand the tax implications, and think about talking with a financial advisor. Taking these steps can help you decide if and when a conversion is a good move for you.


Buying or selling a home.

Purchasing a home is among the largest single financial transactions most people will ever make. It’s not something to take lightly. After all, this is where you’re going to spend years or possibly decades of your life. So, do your homework before jumping in. Whether you’ve purchased a home before or not, pay attention to these important considerations. They may help save heartache and offer significant savings.

Get professional representation.

With such a huge, important decision, this is no time to “go it alone.” Buying a home is much more complicated than signing a few documents and picking up the keys. There are professionals that know every legal nook and cranny that the average person may overlook. In spite of the numerous costs involved, hiring a professional is not one to skimp on.

When looking for the right representative, remember that you’re the boss. You’re interviewing them, so don’t hesitate to ask for a resume, past experience, details about why their services are worth the cost, or how they’ll save you money.

Shop around.

It’s not uncommon to spend weeks or months finding that perfect home because it’s so exciting. But very few individuals will take the time to shop around for the right lender, real estate broker, title company, or real estate attorney. A lot of parties are involved in real estate transactions and the difference in quality and cost for each one can be significant. A few thousand dollars may not seem important in light of the overall cost of your home purchase, but it is. Don’t give in to the complacent attitude of signing checks just because it’s easier.

Get everything in writing.

We’ve all had the experience of getting a take-out meal, only to discover a mile down the road that you’re missing part of your order. Whether it was a miscommunication or an honest mistake, these things happen. The same is true with larger transactions. Be sure to get every detail in writing and to read through it carefully. Even if all the involved parties are honest and have your best interests in mind, miscommunication still happens. And while missing fries from your take-out meal may be irritating, it’s nothing compared to discovering that your monthly payments are larger than expected or that rear-landscaping costs aren’t included. Getting every detail in writing not only provides accurate expectations, it also provides some legal evidence in case of any disputes.

Know all the costs.

It’s easy to get lost in all the commissions and fees of buying or selling a home. However, ignoring the various costs can be expensive. Keep a list of expenses and make sure you understand each one. Who’s paying for the appraisal, the inspection, or title insurance? If you’re the seller, what property taxes are due for the time you were the homeowner? Buyers, how much will annual taxes cost? Are there homeowners association dues? Know which party is paying for closing costs, warranties, or any other associated costs. Tell your agent you don’t want any surprises.

Don’t make emotional decisions.

Don’t let emotion drive your decision-making process. At the end of the day, this is a financial transaction. Whether you’re buying your first home or selling a home you raised a family in, you can bet the person on the other side of the deal is more concerned about their own emotions than yours. Keep a cool, level head at all times. This doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t have emotional reactions or “I must have this kitchen!” moments. If the tire swing in the backyard reminds you of a happy childhood, that’s great. Just don’t let it cloud your judgment.

What to do next.

Speak with your professional team. Not only will you want to meet with professionals in the real estate field, but you’ll also want to talk with an accountant or investment advisor. Small decisions can make a big difference in taxes or other expenses.

Determine what you can afford. If you’re planning to take out a loan, you can get pre-approved for a specific amount. Remember, what you can borrow and what you can afford are two very different things.

Hire a professional and start house-hunting for your new home.

Avoid emotional investing decisions.

The old cartoon character Pogo famously commented: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Pogo could well have been describing an investor trying to navigate today’s markets. We can be our own worst enemy with our emotions betraying sound advice at any moment.

One of the most valuable lessons you can learn in investing is to beware of your emotions.

Feelings like fear, euphoria, or greed act as powerful unseen motivators. A behavioral finance paper stated that financial gains trigger the same “reward circuitry” in the brain as cocaine, while financial losses trigger a hard-wired “fight-or-flight” response.1

Emotional investing.

Various emotional states can sabotage your investing behavior and hard-worked, long-term financial plan. These common investing emotions lead to mistakes:

  • Euphoria. The delight of seeing your stocks go up day after day makes success seem self-perpetuating. An investor can catch the “bubble” mentality of the crowd.
  • Fear. When an ugly day (or week or month) brings falling market prices, an investor can be tempted to sell everything and “go to cash,” possibly missing an opportunity as the market rebounds.
  • Overconfidence. In a rising market, an investor may believe his or her own superior abilities are causing the gains. It is easy to ignore warning signs or the need for caution.
  • Hyperactivity. Bombarded constantly with real-time information, an investor can react to every twist and turn in the market. Tinkering is costly and distracts from the long-term plan.
  • Denial. An investor watching an asset drop in price may be reluctant to sell and recognize a loss. Selling a depreciated asset goes against an emotional tendency not to admit failure.
  • Greed. In any market, the allure of “more” can entice an investor to seek more yield on a bond, more growth in a stock. But beware — the promise of more return also means more risk.

Follow your plan.

Discipline can be the antidote to the emotions that drive your investing astray. Following a well-designed investment plan will keep you on track to achieve long-term financial goals. Some pointers on avoiding the emotional tug of war in investing:

  • Have a specific plan. Most investors follow a strategy in their head that is highly changeable. A more structured plan — spelling out long-term goals, approaches to risk and return, and strategies to achieve those goals — will serve as a steady guide.
  • Track progress on a schedule. Obsessing over investments daily or moment to moment is counterproductive because of the temptation to make frequent changes. Reviewing your portfolio regularly but not too frequently and meeting with your financial advisor at least twice a year will help separate you emotionally from the swings of the market.
  • Talk with an investment advisor. An experienced financial professional can offer you perspective on the fluctuations of the market. Investment advisors acting as fiduciaries can offer objectivity and commitment to your best interests, giving you an anchor against the emotional winds of the market and sensational media coverage.
  • Learn how to sit still. Be aware that volatile markets make it hard to do nothing. If the stock market drops today, the temptation is to sell stocks, buy, or react in some way. But responding to every market fluctuation is focusing on the small picture. Practice the habit of focusing on the larger picture, which includes your financial goals and long-term strategies.

Benefits of discipline.

Changing your investment positions based on emotions can be costly and counterproductive. The frequent activity of a reactive investor tends to run up commissions and other transaction costs. If you invest by feelings, your tendency may be to do the wrong thing at the wrong time — sell out of fear when prices are down, or buy out of greed when others have driven prices up.

Instead, a smart investor works on the habits of disciplined investing: following a structured plan, tracking progress, getting objective advice, emphasizing asset allocation, and — more often than not — knowing the value of doing nothing at all.

What to do next.

  • Give yourself a checkup on the common emotions that lead to investing mistakes.
  • Put your energy into designing and following a sound long-term investment plan.
  • Review your portfolio regularly and talk with your financial advisor as your personal situation changes.
  • When the market threatens to change your investment positions based on emotions, talk to an experienced professional investment advisor.


1 Lo, Andrew. (August 28, 2011). Fear, Greed, and Financial Crises: A Cognitive Neurosciences Perspective. Retrieved October 4, 2017, from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Can your home generate retirement income?

As the retirement-income gap widens, more and more Americans are looking for ways to cover everyday costs. If you’re a retired homeowner and need to boost your income, you may want to consider two ways your home can help you meet your financial needs: a reverse mortgage and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Be sure to understand what they are so you’re comfortable with their drawbacks if you move forward with either option.

What is a reverse mortgage?

If you’re 62 or older, own your home, use it as your primary residence, or have a substantial amount of equity, you’re probably eligible for a reverse mortgage.1

Also known as a home equity conversion mortgage, a reverse mortgage lets you trade some of your home equity for cash. Unlike a traditional mortgage, however, you don’t have to make payments as long as you stay in the house. Your interest is deferred until you move out, too.2

Reverse mortgages have been subject to stricter lending regulations and expanded consumer protections since 2013 to reduce risk for mortgage holders.3 For example, lenders are now required to complete financial assessments on homeowners before issuing reverse mortgages, and they must provide a three-day grace period to cancel loans following their approval.4 Regulations also limit homeowners’ use of a reverse mortgage to only 60% of the full amount of the loan in the first year.2

Benefits and drawbacks of a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages can increase the cash you have on hand to pay for expenses, help offset poor returns on your other investments, and bridge your income gap if you delay Social Security payments. Note that you’re still responsible for your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and upkeep of your home.5

There are drawbacks to a reverse mortgage, however. Depending on your situation, closing costs will probably be higher than a traditional mortgage. Also, if you hope to leave your home for a loved one after you’re gone, a reverse mortgage can use up your equity and deplete your home’s value.5

Finally, even with tightened regulations, you still need to make sure your lender isn’t using your reverse mortgage to sell you other high-priced or inappropriate products to boost their commission and bonus.4

What’s a HELOC?

HELOCs are loans that use your home as collateral. You might think of a HELOC as a credit card for your house. You have a credit limit you can borrow against, pay all or part of the balance, and borrow again up to your limit.6

The length of time you have to borrow from your line of credit and make minimum, interest-only monthly payments is called the draw period. Once it’s over, you’ll have to repay the principal AND interest on your HELOC until the end of your loan period.7

How are they used?

Homeowners use HELOCs to pay for all sorts of expenses, including home repair and renovations, college tuition, big-ticket items like cars, emergencies, and yes, everyday expenses in retirement.8

Most experts agree that HELOCs should be used only for short-term needs in retirement, like paying for unforeseen home or healthcare emergencies, since limited income and cash flow may impact your ability to make your loan payments.9

Benefits and drawbacks of a HELOC.

HELOCs, unlike reverse mortgages, have low interest rates and no closing costs. Your payments are done once your credit line reaches zero.6

Payments are required, however, and if you don’t make them, you could lose your house. And keep in mind, those monthly payments can be high — which may be challenging if you’re on a fixed income.10

Reverse mortgages and HELOCs are intriguing possibilities when it comes to supplementing your income during retirement. Both have benefits as well as drawbacks. It’s a good idea to speak with your financial advisor, an estate lawyer, or a CPA before you commit to either one.


1 Reverse Mortgage Rules & Requirements? American Advisors Group. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://www.aag.com/news/reverse-mortgage-rules
2 What’s a reverse mortgage? CNN Money. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/retirementliving_homeequity.moneymag/index2.htm
3 Lane, B. (2016, July 15). Study: Recent changes to reverse mortgage rules cut default risk in half. HousingWire. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://www.housingwire.com/articles/37546-study-recent-changes-to-reverse-mortgage-rules-cut-default-risk-in-half
4 Consumer Information: Feverse Mortgages. Federal Trade commission. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages
5 Reverse Mortgage — What Is It, How Does It Work, And More. (2016, October 10). Bankrate. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/basics-of-reverse-mortgages-1.aspx
6 HELOC. Bankrate. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/topic/heloc.aspx
7 What Is a HELOC? (2009, July 24). The Mortgage Professor. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from https://www.mtgprofessor.com/a%20-%20second%20mortgages/what_is_a_heloc.htm
8 Geffner, M. Reasons To Use Home Equity: 5 Good, 1 Bad. Bankrate. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/home-equity/reasons-to-use-home-equity-1.aspx
9 Hopkins, J. (2016, April 13). Cash-strapped boomer? Retire on home equity $$. CNBC. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/13/cash-strapped-boomer-you-can-retire-using-home-equity.html
10 Powell, R. (2012, August 23). Home-equity loans could sink your retirement. MarketWatch. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-equity-loans-could-sink-retirement-hopes-2012-08-23

September 2017 Mailbag | Straight talk from Financial Engines

Outliving your money in retirement. Account changes. Market reactions to geopolitical events and weather catastrophes. These are some of the topics on the minds of our clients. Read how we address them in our latest Mailbag.

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August 2017 Perspectives – Synchronized swimming

From talking about the U.S. economy’s treading water in last quarter’s Perspectives, we’ve now moved to “synchronized swimming” in our current issue. Synchronized swimming, you ask? We think that’s a fitting metaphor for the global expansion we’re seeing from the world’s major economic players.

International equity markets have led the way so far this year, and in this quarter’s Perspectives, we take a look at what’s been driving their performance. We also consider whether more interest-rate hikes are back on hold and look ahead to the second half of 2017 and the market and economic questions that may help shape it.

Read our August 2017 Perspectives below, or click here to download >>