Tips for making your year-end donations count the most | The Coloradoan | coloradoan.com

If you donate clothes, that old couch or money to a local charity or thrift store today, your donation could help maximize your tax return.Interested in making a year-end gift?

Here are some tips and tricks for making your gift count — and accurately recording it for tax purposes.

Give to the right organizations.  If you want your donation to count as tax deductible, make sure the organization you’re giving to is a qualified organization. Typically, only five types of organizations qualify: religious, charitable, educational, scientific, literary and the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

via Tips for making your year-end donations count the most | The Coloradoan | coloradoan.com.

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New Year’s Questions – An Exercise to Begin 2013

New Year’s Questions

I picked these questions up at a wonderful workshop I attended a few years ago and have found them to be very useful.

Steve

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Before beginning a new year in full force, it can be supportive to complete and acknowledge the previous year. I hope that spending a few minutes with the following questions will help you complete 2012 and start 2013 on a strong note!

Completing and Remembering 2012

  • What was your biggest triumph in 2012?
  • What was the smartest decision you made in 2012?
  • What one word best sums up and describes your 2012 experience?
  • What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2012?
  • What was the most loving service you performed in 2012?
  • What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2012?
  • What are you most happy about completing in 2012?
  • Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2012?
  • What was the biggest risk you took in 2012?
  • What was the biggest surprise in 2012?
  • What important relationship improved the most in 2012?
  • What compliment would you liked to have received in 2012?
  • What compliment would you liked to have given in 2012?
  • What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2012?

Creating 2013

  • How will you acknowledge those who most impacted your life last year?
  • What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2013?
  • What advice would you like to give yourself in 2013?
  • What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2013?
  • What would you be most happy about completing in 2013?
  • What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2013?
  • What would you most like to change about yourself in 2013?
  • What are you looking forward to learning in 2013?
  • What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2013?
  • What about your work are you most committed to changing and improving in 2013?
  • What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2013?
  • What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2013?
  • Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2013?
  • What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2013?

3 financial predictions for 2013

I agree with the following predictions made by Allan Roth of Moneywatch.

Steve

While I pride myself in knowing that I don’t know the future, I also love to look at probabilities. To that end, let’s take a look at my three predictions for 2013, along with my assessment of the probabilities they will be correct.

Stocks will rise — 70 percent probability. According to my analysis of Wilshire 5000 total return data, since 1970 U.S. stocks have had up years 76 percent of the time (that counts 2012 as an up year, which obviously isn’t over yet. Inflation ran higher during most of that time period, so I’ll make a rough adjustment for 2013, with inflation forecast to be low, and will slightly lower the probabilities. Stocks have been up an average of 10.2 percent annually over this period of time. The best year was 1975, when stocks surged 38.5 percent, and the worst was 2008, when stocks plunged 37.3 percent.

read the complete article here: 3 financial predictions for 2013 – CBS News.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Financial Gurus

Sure, I know that financial experts consistently fail to pick winning stocks or time the market or long-term interest rates. And sure, I’m well aware that I don’t possess any predictive skill that makes me better than those claiming to be gurus. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t entertained a fantasy or two of being one of the famous stock pickers you see on CNBC.Though it might sound immodest, if I were to become a financial guru, I’d be the best. Why? Because I’ve studied the best, and from my observations have compiled a list of the seven things that would make me one of the most sought after financial geniuses.

Here’s how I would pull ahead of the guru pack and render talking heads, like Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, yesterday’s news. Perhaps your guru is using some or all of these techniques to get you to believe he is smarter than the market

via 7 Habits of Highly Effective Financial Gurus – CBS News.

Finding Real Returns in the bond Market

This is a great post by my friend Bert Whitehead about the relationship of risk and return – specifically in the bond market.

Steve

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Widespread consternation is erupting in the investment arena, particularly in Fixed Income Departments which handles bonds. Everyone wants to find the perfect investment with ‘decent’ yields like 5% to 8% which are our birthright. To accomplish this, many investment advisors devise complex allocation strategies, e.g. derivatives, collateralized mortgage obligations, annuities and whole life insurance, to justify the amount they charge investors.

I still have trouble believing that these ‘Professional Fixed Income Strategists’ can add any value for their retail clients. Surely if they had the foresight and analytic ability they claim, they would have been able to detect Collateralized Mortgage Collapse or Libor Rate scam. Their losses on these investments will exceed $100,000,000,000 (yes, 100 Billion)… and the scam had been ongoing since 2008!

The players include Schwab, BofA, JP Morgan, Citi Bank – plus virtually all the biggest bond dealers abroad. Their strategies in this area have been a continuous train wreck! Why would we conclude that they can make these kinds of fixed income strategies work for small investors in the retail market?

Rates Reflect Default Risk

The truth is this: if Treasuries are paying 2, and high-yield bonds are paying 6%, the 4% difference is entirely attributable to the higher risk (i.e. default rate) plus the outrageous fees bond dealers charge. That means that for every $1million invested in junk bonds, some retail customer(s) will lose $40,000 – net of everyone else’s gains. There is no free lunch.

via Bert Whitehead: September 2012.

Five Ways to Get Poor (from Bert Whitehead)

This is a great blog by my friend Bert Whitehead –

1) Stay in a Dysfunctional Relationship.

I have often described divorce as “mutual impoverishment.” While many different relationships can have detrimental financial consequences, divorce in particular leaves both parties handicapped — often for their lifetimes. Our divorce laws are designed to protect the most vulnerable spouse, but seldom can the contribution of a high-earning mate be equalized. So the dependent spouse who typically embraces the primary parent role at the expense of career development often faces a continuing downward spiral in living standard while the higher earner must start a new financial future from scratch. And while two people living together costs less than living in separate households, the reality is that the costs of living apart after a divorce can be financially devastating if both parties attempt to maintain the marital standard of living.

The lesson here is to be choosy about your mate at the outset! “Till death do us part” states a commitment that embraces the mutual support and teamwork that optimizes the marital relationship. But that is still no guarantee of financial prosperity.

Of course other dysfunctional and financially draining relationships can be non-marital. By definition a dysfunctional relationship is one where maintaining a commitment is detrimental to both parties. This can also include parents and children, abused spouses, and those who continue long-term relationship with an afflicted partner who will not take the steps necessary to achieve recovery. Often the most committed spouse unwittingly aggravates the dysfunctional relationship through co-dependent support.

2) Develop Some Bad Habits.

No one is perfect; some are more imperfect than others. The Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Lust, Gluttony, and Envy) are considered by many to be the roots of various addictions (hubris, chronic rage, procrastination, gambling, sexual obsession, compulsive spending, over-indulgence in food and drink, covetousness, etc.). These bad habits are ‘deadly’ because they are often considered the origins of many other ‘sins’ or dysfunctional behaviors that are difficult to change.

My experience is that addiction of one type or other is often at the root of financial distress. Addictions involve misuse of both personal and material assets, so they are often the harbingers of poverty. Recovery from financial downfalls due to active addiction is seldom successful unless the addiction is directly addressed and dealt with effectively.

you can read the complete article here:   Bert Whitehead: Five Ways to Get Poor.