What should investors do about the record-high trade deficit?

The U.S. Commerce Department reported this month that the trade deficit for 2018 reached a record $891.3 billion and grew by nearly 13 percent over 2017. As investors, what should we be taking away from this metric?

The first question might be: How did we get to this point? President Donald Trump assured us one year ago that raising tariffs on imports from other countries would force them to lower their import tariffs and correspondingly reduce the U.S. trade deficit. In fact, his announcement last year of the imposition of punitive tariffs had the opposite effect of stimulating U.S. businesses to import more before the costs went up, which exacerbated the imbalance.

Tips for preparing to sell your house

Thinking about selling your house? Shhhh – don’t tell anyone.

I’m kidding. Sort of. Here is the reality: There are more people who want to move into this area than those leaving. So, when word gets out that you are thinking about selling, here is what may happen: Your phone, email, texts, etc., will start to blow up. Your neighbors have a buyer friend who has been looking for two years, some developer from out of the area wants to pay you all cash if you sign today or real estate agents who have buyers who want to move right in so their kids can start school in the fall.

Why is 65 the national default retirement age?

Retirement in the U.S. is considered to start at age 65. Why? After all, there’s nothing sacrosanct about that particular age. Many people are capable of working well beyond 65, while others fortunate enough to have amassed sufficient wealth prior to reaching that milestone are happy to retire earlier.

According to the Social Security Administration’s website, the first country to create a social insurance program for retirees was Germany in the 1880s. The emperor at the time, William I, wrote a letter to Parliament stating that “those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state.” Quite a radical idea back then! The German program was initially created to begin at age 70, but by 1916, the age limit had been reduced to 65.

The importance of inspections

When you buy or sell a house, inspections are often involved. Following are some commonly asked questions.

How seniors can still get charitable tax deductions

As a result of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, taxpayers – especially in California – may find themselves losing some of the deductions they used to get for charitable contributions on their 2018 taxes.

Here’s a simple example to explain this. Suppose you are married and have the following annual expenses.

How to use social media, not let it use you

Over the past 12 years, social media has evolved from purely being an opportunity to connect with people and share information to being something bigger. It is now woven deeply into the fabric of our lives. Social media now plays an important role, influencing us on where to go and how to spend our time on a daily basis.

Given that there are many social media platform choices, ranging from LinkedIn to Facebook, from Snapchat to Pinterest and from Tumblr to Reddit – all vying for our time – how can we make peace with social media and still manage to feel productive in our daily lives?

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