Jason Van Steenwyk Jason Van Steenwyk has been writing professionally about finance, insurance, economics, and investing since 2000. He got his start in journalism with Mutual Funds magazine. Since then, he has published feature articles for financial professionals and consumers alike in Registered Rep., Wealth & Retirement Planner, Senior Market Advisor, The Annuity Selling Guide, The Honolulu Advertiser, and many more. He is also a former insurance agent, where he worked with individuals and small business owners on planning their life insurance, health insurance, long term care and retirement needs. An avid musician, Jason is also a semiprofessional guitarist and fiddler, and proud member of the Army National Guard for 20 years. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Before any military member goes on a mission, he or she gets an operations order spelling out the succession of command, plus instructions and resources in case the mission goes bad.
Essentially, this is what life insurance does for your family. Life insurance provides emergency money to see your family through in case the plan sponsor – the person drawing that regular military paycheck – should pass away. What are your financial resources and options when a family member dies, and how can you best protect yourself and your family? If something happens to you, are your spouse, children, or parents going to be okay? Where will the money come from to carry them through?
These days, many American families have a bewildering array of financial accounts. Between checking and savings accounts, credit card accounts, insurance companies, money market accounts, IRA accounts, mutual funds, and a Section 529 plan, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Just checking your balance once a month with so many different companies can be a very time-consuming process.
Personal Capital seeks to streamline that process. Billing itself as an “aggregator,” the site helps you tame the many-headed beast. At the same time, the site purports to give you access to unbiased advice from its network of personal financial planners. So now that you can get a handle on all your different financial accounts, theoretically you’ll know what to do with them.
Wealthfront is an online financial advisory firm that provides a low-cost way for people to diversify their investments among a variety of asset classes according to the precepts of modern portfolio theory, a concept pioneered by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Harry Markowitz. Markowitz showed mathematically that by combining multiple asset classes into a single portfolio, investors could achieve better performance with less risk than a mere arithmetic analysis would suggest.
Modern portfolio theory, or MPT, has since become the guiding light for many institutional investors and individual portfolios alike.
One of the great debates in the investment world centers on whether mutual fund managers, in the aggregate, add any value for investors. Since Vanguard introduced the first index fund in the 1970s, skeptics and critics of the financial services industry have argued that professional money managers have failed to earn their keep. Taking all of them together, they simply don’t do any better than a random selection of securities in any given market or investment style.
In addition to having been a professional or semi-professional musician throughout my entire adult life, I’ve also served as a life insurance advisor and retirement planner for other musicians. Unfortunately, I have found that most musicians are not very savvy at financial planning.
The harsh reality is that being an artist does not exempt you from the economic realities of life. If you plan on growing old and being able to afford the basic necessities in your retirement, you, like everyone else, must make preparations.
The best offense is frequently a good defense. No matter how astute a business person you are, or how skilled you are as an investor, or how lucky you are with your lottery tickets, it does little good if you leave your assets hanging like a slab of meat in the water for trial lawyers to sink their teeth into.
Let’s face it: America is growing increasingly litigious, and the more assets people think you have, the more tempting a target you will become for frivolous lawsuits.
If you’re a buy and hold, long-term investor looking to build a portfolio, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are worth a look. They have a number of advantages over mutual funds, and you can buy ETFs that focus on nearly any market you can imagine.
However, before investing, it’s important to understand ETFs. Learn how they differ from mutual funds, and investigate their advantages and disadvantages relative to conventional mutual funds.
Oil makes the world go round, and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. Petroleum remains in high demand, as it is an efficient way to generate both BTUs (British Thermal Units, a measure of energy) and kilowatt hours. Petroleum also has a multitude of uses in industry, as it can be used as a lubricant and is a key component in the creation of plastics.
Natural gas, for its part, is a popular source of heating and cooking energy. It can also be converted into diesel fuel and electricity, and is essential in the creation of chemical fertilizers.
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