Author: Jeff Diamond, AIF®

FSA vs HSA: How to Make the Most out of Your Employee Benefits

healthcare costs
A comparison of the two biggest tax-advantaged savings accounts offered by employers

If there was a pop quiz and you were asked to explain the difference between a flexible spending account (FSA) and a health savings account (HSA), would you pass the quiz?

Chances are, you’d probably struggle with the answer. Though they share similar names and some other key similarities, such as both being tax-advantaged options available through work benefits, there are some major differences between the two accounts.

Like any decision, it’s best to make your choice from an informed position. To do so, here are the main takeaways you should know when it comes to the differences between an HSA and an FSA account.

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Small Business Checklist: How to Assess Your Financial Wellness

A Five-Step Plan for Busy Business Owners

Running your business day to day takes all of your energy and focus. Your waking hours are consumed with managing and sustaining it, and you likely spend many a sleepless night on the details no one else thinks about. This is the life of a committed small business owner.

When you’re grinding day after day to keep your business well-positioned, however, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Specifically, it becomes difficult for many small business owners to find the time to monitor the overall health of their business in a meaningful way. The five-step guide below is designed to help you focus on five key elements of your business’ financial health.

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Writing a Will, Estate Planning and Financial Documents: DIY or Pro

The internet offers lots of DIY estate planning and financial tools, such as an online will maker and guides for advanced directives. Should you learn how to make a will for free and create your own package of estate documents or should you hire professional help? These considerations can help.

A husband and wife came to Zach Morris, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Paces Ferry Wealth Advisors, after completing an online will maker. Upon reviewing the documents, Morris, whose firm is a registered investment advisor with the SEC, realized that they had each decided to leave $10,000 and their dog to their best friend. But the will didn’t state what to do with the animal (or the money) if the friend died before them — meaning the couple could have accidentally left their pet and $20,000 to their best friend’s next-of-kin.

It was a small error, but one that illustrates the risks of taking a DIY route for financial and estate planning. “When you’re talking about legal terms, it’s really something that you want to get right,” Morris says.

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CARES Act Signed into Law –Brings Relief to Millions of Americans

This $2 trillion bill is meant to impact both individuals and businesses and contains significant tax-savings measures. It could affect prior tax years while also creating immediate cash-flow.

Impact on Individuals

Stimulus Checks

Perhaps the most impactful provision for American citizens is the CARES Act’s promise of cash payments of up to $1,200 per single individual and $2,400 for a married couple. Parents will also receive an additional $500 per qualifying child. Payments are phased-out for individuals with incomes greater than $75,000 and for married couples filing jointly with income greater than $150,000.

Provisions are such that payments will be based on 2018 tax returns, though, like the Affordable Care Act’s tax premium credit, there is a true-up related to the amount for which you are eligible on the 2020 tax return. Nonresident aliens, dependents and estates and trusts are not eligible for a stimulus check.

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How to Remain Hopeful and Keep Perspective During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Coronavirus Pandemic is real and it is scary on many different levels.  With news of the pandemic spreading and the recommendations on social distancing getting broader, it can be hard to feel certain or safe about anything.

As troubling as it is to watch the unprecedented market decline, we need to maintain our health and the health and safety of our family, friends, and neighbors as the number one priority. COVID-19 which emerged late in 2019 in China has spread rapidly worldwide since then and is a global pandemic. The measures taken by leaders around the globe have been strong leaving most children without a classroom to go to, many parents working from home or some without a job altogether and investors panicking about what is to come.

This disruption to daily life and to our psyches is substantial. The coming weeks could be difficult, but these measures are practical and prudent.

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So, You’ve Inherited Money – Now What?

If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit a large sum of money, you probably experienced a flurry of emotions, including excitement at the possibilities it opens up for you and your family. However, once the initial elation wears off, it’s common to feel a bit of trepidation and confusion about how to properly manage your new fortune, especially if you don’t consider yourself particularly savvy when it comes to money.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a finance expert to make your inheritance last. Read on for six simple tips to help you make the most of your newfound financial freedom.

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Are You on Track to Meet Your Retirement Goals?

retirement planning atlanta

Net Worth Goals By Age

Do you find yourself wondering if you’re on track to meet your retirement goals? Are you saving diligently but still unsure whether it’s enough? A valuable benchmark to help you answer these questions is your net worth: that is, the number you’re left with when you add up your cash and other financial assets and subtract all your debts.

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Managing Your Response to Behavioral Biases

In the investment business terrain, there truly is no such phenomenon as a “sure thing,” and this is the reason our goals-based planning method takes into account the natural unpredictability of the market. In order to arrive at a safe middle ground, our strategy endeavors to invest assets in a way that even the worst of market situations have a less than total effect on any one portfolio. While there is no guarantee, prudent and science-based investing can help our clients weather the storm during market declines and benefit from the growth during periods of market upticks.

Human nature being what it is, however, we anticipate the anxiety that can lead clients to respond hastily during market corrections. Unfortunately, these premature panic responses can jeopardize a long term strategy, and significantly hurt a portfolio.

Behavioral biases can negatively affect our financial decisions, but there are ways to harness the power of optimism and manage your responses in a positive, confident manner, despite the inevitable pressures you may face financially over the course of your life.

The following is a demonstration of how a pragmatic approach to managing your behavioral biases can function to prevent your negative auto-responses during times when your confidence in your finances is strained.

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Four Ways to Streamline Your Finances

Managing a complex financial picture can feel like a Herculean task and one that often leads to stress and procrastination. So much time is spent organizing paperwork and hunting down data that by the time you actually sit down to figure out where you stand you are too tired and stressed to be able to make good decisions or implement new strategies.

If this sounds like you, it may be time to take some steps to simplify your financial life. This won’t just save you time and effort it may also save you money.

We have compiled four tips that cover the areas most people seem to need to simplify and improve. Your needs may be different but at the very least this list should give you some ideas about how to get started.

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What Is Impact Investing and Why Does it Matter?

Impact investing allows you to put your money where your mouth is, and help the world in the process.

by: Brian O’Connell

Impact investing is everything the name implies – it’s all about investments in companies that make a positive impact on society and on their communities.

No question, investing in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), the more formal name for impact investing, has both rewards and risks, but that’s not stopping legions of investors from getting involved.

According to the Global Impact Investing Network, the global impact investment market stands at $502 billion in 2019.

Expect that figure to rise as more investors (especially younger ones) decide that “doing well by doing good” is their go-to investment strategy going forward, and as impact investing becomes their investment model of choice.

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