Kiara Ashanti Kiara Ashanti is a former financial advisor, securities trader, and writer in Central Florida. He has written for Black Enterprise Magazine, Active Trader Magazine, and Atlanta Post, and has even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Kiara covers the areas of business, investments, and personal finance.
A lot of focus is placed on acquiring assets and security by advancing your career and making wise financial investments. However, what is often overlooked is how these assets are titled and the effect on your financial situation.
Unforeseen complications can arise when you have properties and assets titled in ways that create conflict within a family (who gets what or how much) or supersede provisions you make in your will. Also, significant tax benefits can be gained – or lost – depending on the characterization of your property.
In order to avoid complication, it’s prudent to be familiar with the different classifications of ownership.
While a charitable remainder trust (CRT) can be an excellent tool for charitable giving and estate planning, a wealth replacement trust is sometimes a better option. When you establish a charitable remainder trust, you transfer appreciated property to an irrevocable trust and designate a charity as the beneficiary. A portion (or all) of the assets within the trust are then sold and reinvested to provide income to the person donating the assets. At the death of the donor, or after a specified number of years, the trust expires and the property remaining within the trust is transferred to the charity.
As the country prepares for the presidential election, there is one talking point President Obama’s team may use often. During his term, the stock market has regained the losses endured at the end of Bush’s term. It is a good talking point because it is true: At the end of 2008, the Dow Jones had fallen from historic highs to a low of 6,547. Now it hovers just below 13,000. In political terms, this is a good place be for an incumbent president.
Warren Buffett’s investing principles have earned him the moniker of the “world’s greatest investor.” It is a nickname that Buffett himself chuckles at, but when you are worth $36 billion, it is hard to dispute. However, it’s not the truth.
Warren Buffett did not become a billionaire as an investor, and he does not “invest” in the manner usually depicted in popular media. That may be a bold statement to make, but once you understand his actual techniques of accumulating wealth, then you will be able to begin running your own investments in a similar way.
The gross domestic product, or GDP, is one of the most common measures on the state of the economy for any nation. Unfortunately, unless you took an Economics 101 class in college and managed to not fall asleep, you may not know exactly what the GDP is – or why it is important.
Simply stated, GDP is the total market value of all goods and services produced in a country for a given time period. The time period most often used is one year, which is then compared to past years as a way to measure the improvement or decline of a country’s economic situation. Some of the measurable items utilized in GDP calculations include the sales of automobiles, food, salon services, financial services, and movie tickets. Generally, the higher the number, the better the economy is doing.
If you are one of the millions of Americans who are out of work, joining the ranks of those returning to school is a great idea. In fact, it may be necessary for your long-term financial survival.
There are two realities that those with and without jobs must face. One, is that there are just too many applicants for the jobs currently available, which means competition is fierce. If you do not have a degree, then you are at a disadvantage. And if you do have a degree, you are slightly better off, but may remain in a situation where employers can hire workers with advanced degrees within your salary range. It is undoubtedly an employer’s market.
The U.S. could experience some rather drastic tax changes in the near future. For instance, if the so-called Buffett Rule passes, capital gains taxes would increase from 15% to 30% for those with incomes above $250,000 or those with a $1 million in hard assets. Another looming tax hike are the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire in 2013, pushing rates up for many Americans.
When it comes to estate planning, the focus usually rests on methods to avoid probate court and minimize tax assessments against your estate. Other priorities are the issues of ensuring that your assets are given out in accordance to your wishes, as well as determining who will make medical decisions if you are incapacitated.
However, there are additional estate planning components that, if overlooked, could damage otherwise well-laid plans to such an extent that a once-substantial estate could be entirely exhausted.
There are few things as traumatic as dealing with the death of a parent, sibling, or spouse. It is a reality that we will all face at some point in our lives, and when we do, the pain experienced is often exacerbated by the legal issues death often brings. Dealing with insurance companies, locating and reading the will, and coming up with a fair process are a few of the draining but necessary things to handle. Add in money, assets, investments, and contentious family members, and it is no wonder that many families are overwhelmed by this life event. Looming over it all is the specter of probate, a process that few people understand but is crucial in the tying up of your loved ones’ affairs.
When it comes to the tenets of proper investing and personal finance, some rules have been discussed so often that even non-experts know them: Do not get deep into debt, save money for a rainy day, buy life insurance, and do not try to day trade. There is one rule, however, that is considered the granddaddy of all investing maxims: Diversify your investment portfolio. Or as the saying goes, “Do not put all your eggs in one basket.”
But let me ask you a question: What if all the people who say to diversify are actually wrong?
In popular media, there is a fascination with the differences between everyday Americans and the wealthy. However, in reality, the rich and the average American often use their money in the same ways. The rich routinely give to charity, and while the amounts they give are high, as a group they do not give more than everyone else.
Charitable giving is as American as apple pie, and every year, Americans prove you do not have to be a billionaire to be charitable. Whether it is spurred by tough economic times, natural disasters, or simply the desire to give to organizations that people believe in, Americans give generously.
As a kid growing up in the frigid northern states, I eagerly awaited April and May when the days of shivering mornings, glove-covered hands, and general misery would be over. But these days, I dread the arrival of the warmer months. Spring and summer are when people take to the roads en masse, which means the price of gas is bound to skyrocket even higher than its current record rates. The average price of unleaded is above $5.00 a gallon and it’s not even May yet. June and July could mean higher prices than we have seen in decades.
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