Reviewing the four biggest Bitcoin myths

When the value of an investment suddenly soars or collapses, it tends to get a lot of media coverage. In 2017, that investment was Bitcoin.

This highly publicized cryptocurrency started 2017 priced at $978 and, as of early December, reached a value of more than $17,000. That’s a return of more than 1,600 percent in less than a year. No wonder everybody is talking about it. But should you invest in it?

How to worry less about your investments

I don’t suppose that worrying is ever a good idea. If there’s something in your life you are concerned about, and you have the ability to change it, then you can and should do so. If you have no control over it, worrying about it won’t improve anything and might even negatively impact your health.

Nowhere is this more relevant than with your invested savings. Many of the people who come to me for advice start by telling me how worried they are about their investments. If you’re one of those people, I may have a simple solution to help you alleviate all of that stress.

Examining the impact of taxation in retirement

There is a notion that taxes will be minimal in retirement. That may not be the case, especially in high-cost-of-living states like California.

A variety of taxes can affect retirees – federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes and estate taxes, to name a few. Remember that tax deferral of qualified assets – 401(k), IRA and 403(b) – is not forever. With required minimum distribution of your qualified assets when you reach age 70 1/2, your tax rate could significantly increase.

What you can do about rising Medicare premiums

Since Medicare’s inception in 1966, the Part B premium had risen an average of 7.7 percent per year. But in 2017, it increased nearly 28 percent for certain Medicare recipients. It turns out there is a way for you to limit those cost increases. The question is, should you?

Let’s start with a quick review of Medicare. Part A, hospital insurance, covers in-patient hospital stays, surgeries and post-hospital skilled nursing care. If you have contributed to Social Security for 40 quarters or more, you are entitled to Medicare Part A coverage once you reach age 65 at no cost. You also may be entitled to Part A coverage without having to pay a premium through your spouse or based on other extenuating circumstances.

Why are global stock markets performing so well this year?

The year 2017 is shaping up to be one of the best years in a generation for international stock market investing.

For the first time in any year, the Morgan Stanley Capital International All Country World Index has posted a gain every single month through October. The media will offer all kinds of explanations, most of which are speculative and unsupported. Pick your cause: low oil prices, low interest rates, improved gross domestic products, Trump, Obama. In the end, no one really has any clue about what drives the investment markets.

Not paying attention to IRA rules can prove costly to contributors

Most people I speak to are aware of the 10 percent penalty for withdrawing from an IRA prior to age 59 1/2. But there also are penalties for contributing too much in a given year or for not withdrawing enough each year in retirement. Which is worse? By far it’s the latter.

The penalty for making excess contributions to your IRA – more than $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re over age 50 – is only 6 percent of the excess amount. That’s less than the penalty for withdrawing too soon. As long as you withdraw the excess amount prior to Oct. 15 of the year the tax is due (that’s Oct. 15, 2018, for the 2017 tax year), no penalty will be imposed.

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