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Money Matter$

Insights from the Sommers Financial Management Team

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Annuity-Like Safety with ETF Efficiency

The allure of variable annuities (VAs) capture many unsuspecting adults. With a VA, you get to participate in some of the upside of the investment markets with no downside; the insurance company ‘insures’ against losses. The problem with VAs are the complexity and costs. The typical VA costs 3% annually, and has steep “surrender charges” (15% is not uncommon!). What if you could have much of the upside of the S&P 500, with downside protection, no surrender charges, and daily liquidity—all for 0.8% per year?

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Tax Strategies to Help Charities

Since the tax changes in 2018, most Americans are using the standard deduction rather than itemizing, as the standard deduction has nearly doubled—and SaLT tax deductibility is limited to $10,000. That means charitable contributions—which are itemized deductions—no longer have the same tax benefit for most. There are two ways you can plan to maximize the impact of your generosity: Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) or Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from your IRA.

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Two Issues Plaguing the Market as of January 1st, 2019

December was the worst month for the stock market since February 2009, when the world still thought banks might become extinct. While we have no similar global catastrophe on our radar, there is definitely worry in the stock, bond and commodity markets. An upcoming recession is on everyone’s minds, and the two most disturbing market forces today are: 1. Rising interest rates 2. Tariffs & trade wars

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