View Post

Midterm Elections: What Do They Mean For Markets?

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments by Chip Hymiller

It’s almost Election Day in the US once again. While the outcomes of the elections are uncertain, one thing we can count on is that plenty of opinions and prognostications will be floated in the days to come. In financial circles, this will almost assuredly include any potential for perceived impact on markets. But should long-term investors focus on midterm elections?

View Post

Why Invest Globally?

In Asset Allocation, Company News by Chip Hymiller

The U.S. stock market has really been on a tear!  This is especially true when comparing the performance of U.S. stocks to international stocks.  You will note in the table below that over the last year the S&P 500 (U.S. stocks) has outperformed its international counterpart by more than 22%!  This disparity in performance becomes even more magnified when considering …

View Post

Projecting Health-Related Expenses in Retirement

In Asset Allocation, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

For many, the largest unknown during retirement and a source of much concern and worry is the potential for “extraordinary”  health-related expenses.  These costs including Medicare, Medicare Supplement, prescription drug coverage, dental, vision and out-of-pocket costs (deductibles and co-pays) can vary greatly at an individual level. When working on a Retirement Feasibility or Portfolio Sustainability Analysis for clients, we are …

View Post

Beacon Welcomes Nick Faulkner!

In Asset Allocation, Company News by Chip Hymiller

Meet the newest member of the Beacon team, Nick Faulkner.  Nick attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.  Having worked at an independent financial planning and wealth management firm, as well as in the insurance industry, Nick has experience in key areas of the …

View Post

Understanding Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules

In Asset Allocation, Company News, General Financial Planning, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Fast Facts: Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are based on: December 31st account values and… A person’s life expectancy There is currently no annual RMD requirement on Roth IRAs Neglecting to take a RMD can result in a penalty of 50% on the amount of the required to be withdrawn Required Minimum Distributions: A Deeper Look Those …

View Post

Special Needs Planning: An Introduction to ABLE Accounts

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, Estate Planning, General Financial Planning, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning by Chip Hymiller

Families of those with special needs have historically had limited options when accumulating funds for their loved one’s future.  Especially, without jeopardizing their continued eligibility to Medicaid and other support programs. As surprising as it may seem, accumulating as little as $2,000 in a disabled person’s name could potentially render them ineligible to receive much needed assistance and access to …

View Post

Planning for Life in a Retirement Community—Things To Consider

In Asset Allocation, Company News, General Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

There is no doubt that people are living longer and enjoying a higher quality of life in their retirement years.  Given the high demand of retirement communities, which can include independent living and assisted living alternatives, many are taking a proactive approach in evaluating and moving into these communities—prior to health changes that could warrant the necessity to move in. …

View Post

A Look Back on Black Monday: October 19, 1987

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Market Review, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since “Black Monday,” the day the stock market declined a whopping 22.6%! Although I was merely a sophomore in high school, I remember the day quite well.  Having my first real job and being a “saver” by nature, I had just become interested in investing.  I had recently invested in a …

View Post

Protect Your Credit – Implement a Security Freeze Now!

In Asset Allocation, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning by Chip Hymiller

Equifax, one of the three major credit agencies, recently revealed that they had a major security breach whereby 143 million American’s personal information (including Social Security numbers) was stolen.  Click here and choose the “Potential Impact” button to find out if your personal information may have been compromised in this breach. **We do not recommend that you enroll in the Equifax “TrustedID …

View Post

You are Never Too Old (or too Young) for a Roth IRA!

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

The ability to contribute to Roth IRAs can represent one of the most beneficial financial planning decisions that people can make for their future.  Roth IRAs were established by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and while most people are aware of the name, they may not be fully aware of all of the benefits. A Roth IRA is an …

View Post

Estate Tax Planning: Be Proactive and Know Your Options

In Asset Allocation, Estate Planning, General Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

The federal estate tax generally only applies to those who die with assets that exceed $5,490,000 (in 2017).  While only about 0.2% of the population is subject to the estate tax, those who are impacted can be faced with a significant estate tax liability as the estate tax rate quickly exceeds the 40% mark! Here is a simple example of …

View Post

Sequence of Returns Risk: Considerations for New Retirees

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Retirement Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

Research has shown that the timing of one’s retirement can be important – especially as it relates to investment returns in the early years of retirement. Someone who retired just prior to the “Great Recession” could have experienced significantly larger portfolio “drawdowns” than someone who retired during a period of economic expansion and higher investment returns.

View Post

Donor Advised Fund Comparison

In Asset Allocation, Charitable Gifting, Estate Planning, General Financial Planning, Personal Financial Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

In our article, Charitable Gifting Using Donor Advised Funds, we provided some insight into donor advised funds and listed some of the many benefits that the charitably-minded could garner from using donor advised funds as a component of their charitable gifting strategy.  As a follow up to that article, we wanted to provide some information that could be helpful when vetting custodians who offer donor advised funds.

View Post

Economic Snapshot

In Asset Allocation, Investments, Market Review, Retirement Planning, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

The Economic Snapshot is a sampling of a number of widely followed economic and financial market statistics.  Beacon Financial Strategies utilizes these and other economic indicators as a gauge of the general financial health of the economy when making investment decisions. The purpose of the information contained in this post is to provide you with a general gauge of domestic economic …

View Post

Market Pulse – First Quarter 2017

In Asset Allocation, Bonds, Investments, Market Review, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

We, at Beacon Financial Strategies, believe strongly that the most effective investment strategy is one that is developed within the context of a financial plan and customized to meet your personal risk profile and return requirements.  Click here to learn more about our investment philosophy. Research has proven time and again that it is impossible to consistently time the financial markets, by …

View Post

Teaching Your Grandchildren Money Values

In Asset Allocation, Bill Dix, General Financial Planning, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning by Bill Dix

If you’re a grandparent, you likely already offer support in a lot of ways including financial and emotional. But you can also provide practical help. A frequently overlooked area where you can definitely make a difference is with your grandchildren’s personal financial education. Some of us were lucky enough to have a grandparent who we considered a great friend. We …

View Post

Part 3: 10 Years From Retirement, What is Your Financial Focus?

In Asset Allocation, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

This article is the third of a three part series titled: 10 Years from Retirement, What is your financial focus? In Part 1, we discussed the importance of tracking and managing your living expenses, as well as, making projections around how much you will spend in retirement.  We also stressed the importance of making strategic Social Security decisions. In Part 2, we explored pension decisions, …

View Post

2017 Tax Law Changes

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

Happy 2017! As we begin a new year, it’s always important to re-examine certain elements of your financial plan – especially things that relate to tax planning. Here are a few of the more common items that may impact your financial situation this year. Social Security & Medicare Part B For those receiving Social Security, there is a cost of living …

View Post

Beacon Has Moved!

In Asset Allocation, Company News by Chip Hymiller

We have recently moved our office.  We are still located on Six Forks Rd., but we are now located about a mile south of our prior location.  The following is our new address: Beacon Financial Strategies 7100 Six Forks Rd., Ste. 135 Raleigh, NC 27615 We are located in the MyEyeDr building.  Enter our office from the lobby – we …

View Post

Market Pulse – 2016 Market Review

In Asset Allocation, Bonds, Investments, Market Review, Personal Financial Planning, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

We, at Beacon Financial Strategies, believe strongly that the most effective investment strategy is one that is developed within the context of a financial plan and customized to meet your personal risk profile and return requirements.  Click here to learn more about our investment philosophy. Research has proven time and again that it is impossible to consistently time the financial markets, by …

View Post

Beacon Financial Strategies Welcomes Bill Dix, CFP® and Manuela Meyer

In Asset Allocation, Company News by Chip Hymiller

Chip Hymiller, CFP® and Erin Campbell, CPA/PFS, CFP® principals of Beacon Financial Strategies, are pleased to announce that William “Bill” Dix, CFP®, founder of Raleigh-based Fortune Management, LLC, has joined the firm. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to work alongside an industry veteran with the knowledge, experience and reputation that Bill brings to the table,” said Chip …

View Post

Market Pulse – Third Quarter 2016

In Asset Allocation, Bonds, Investments, Market Review, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

We, at Beacon Financial Strategies, believe strongly that the most effective investment strategy is one that is developed within the context of a financial plan and customized to meet your personal risk profile and return requirements.  Click here to learn more about our investment philosophy. Research has proven time and again that it is impossible to consistently time the financial markets, by …

View Post

Part 2: 10 Years from Retirement, What is Your Financial Focus?

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of tracking and managing your living expenses, as well as, making projections around how much you will spend in retirement. We also stressed the importance of making strategic Social Security decisions. In this article, we wanted to spend some time addressing pension decisions, ideas for strengthening your personal balance sheet and helping you think through how much money you will likely need during retirement.

View Post

Economic Snapshot

In Asset Allocation, Market Review, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

The Economic Snapshot is a sampling of a number of widely followed economic and financial market statistics.  Beacon Financial Strategies utilizes these and other economic indicators as a gauge of the general financial health of the economy when making investment decisions. The purpose of the information contained in this post is to provide you with a general gauge of domestic economic …

View Post

Part 1: 10 Years from retirement, what is your financial focus?

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

If you’re 10 years or so away from retirement, you’ve probably spent at least some time thinking about what your life will look like after retirement. How will you manage the transition? Will you travel, take up a new sport or hobby, or spend more time with friends and family? Should you consider relocating? Will you continue to work in some …

View Post

Tax Free IRA Gifts To Charities Are Now Allowed

In Asset Allocation, Charitable Gifting, General Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

For those of you who are charitably inclined and over the age of 70 ½, we have great news that could impact your charitable gifting strategy!  In December 2015, Congress made permanent the ability for taxpayers to divert their required minimum distribution directly to a qualified charity. The ability to make this charitable election, technically called a Qualified Charitable Distribution …

View Post

Fiduciary Responsibility FAQ for 401k Plan Sponsors

In Asset Allocation, Corporate Sponsored 401k Plans, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) imposes strict standards of conduct on fiduciaries who have discretion over the administration and investment of 401(k) retirement plans and plan assets. ERISA and its fiduciary rules apply to defined contribution plans like 401(k) plans, ERISA 403(b) plans and also defined benefit plans. Who are plan fiduciaries to 401(k) plans? Basically, …

View Post

Social Security and Medicare Changes for 2016

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, legislation that raises the federal debt limit and establishes the framework for a two-year budget deal. The legislation, necessary to avoid an impending default on U.S. debt, also contains multiple unrelated provisions, including an elimination of two Social Security retirement benefit claiming strategies and a …

View Post

Retirement Plans for Small Business Owners

In Asset Allocation, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

Small business owners have a number of alternatives to choose from when it comes to establishing retirement plans for their business. Each plan type can vary in their contribution level and matching requirements, as well as their ongoing regulatory and administrative burden. In order to make an informed decision as to the type of retirement plan that works best for you, it is important that you consider the specifics of your business.

View Post

Understanding Risk—Capacity, Tolerance, Perception & Risk Required

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

This article explores four elements of an investor’s risk profile – risk capacity, risk required, risk tolerance and risk perception. Understanding each type of risk is an essential element of building an investment portfolio that can both meet your specific investment needs, while allowing you to sleep easy during times of personal and financial stress.

View Post

Dementia – Do You Have a Game Plan?

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

Increasingly, families have to figure out how to best deal with dementia and other memory-related impairments that naturally happen as people age. This is especially true when navigating the complex and often times confusing area of personal finances. So, what can you do to prepare yourself should you, or a member of your immediate family develop dementia? Here are a few ideas that you may find helpful.

View Post

Pension Decisions – Consider Your Options

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

There is no doubt that pensions are an extremely important asset and making decisions regarding these plans can be daunting and stressful. This is especially true since pension decisions are irrevocable! This article addresses common questions that should be considered when making decisions about your pension.

View Post

Beacon Financial Strategies Celebrates 10 Years!

In Asset Allocation, Company News by Chip Hymiller

It is very hard to believe, but Beacon Financial Strategies recently celebrated our 10th year in business.  While so very much has changed over the last 10 years, one thing remains the same—we absolutely love our “jobs!” We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to those of you who have entrusted Beacon to provide financial guidance to you and …

View Post

Investor Beware of Year-End Capital Gain Distributions!

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

It looks like 2014 is going to be a huge year for mutual funds making capital gain distributions. While on the surface capital gains sounds like a good deal, but in reality they can pose a tax nightmare for some investors – especially people who invest in mutual funds in non-retirement (taxable) accounts. This article explains the problem with mutual fund distributions and provides a resource for those performing year-end tax planning.

View Post

Surviving the Financial Stress Test

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Market Review, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

When making financial planning and investment decisions, we believe that it is important to consider the probability of negative outcomes. We call this “stress-testing” a financial plan. By stress-testing financial planning assumptions, we are able to help our clients identify and protect against financial risks that could derail their financial plans.

View Post

Beacon Participates in CPA Day of Service

In Asset Allocation, Company News by Chip Hymiller

On Friday, September 19, 2014, Beacon professionals joined hundreds of CPAs across the state who participated in the NC Association of Certified Public Accountants’ day of service. Erin Campbell and Chip Hymiller volunteered with about 50 other CPAs at the Food Bank of NC sorting and packaging donated foods. It was great to get out of the office and spend time helping others!

View Post

Long Term Care Insurance—Is it time to consider a hybrid?

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Insurance, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax by Chip Hymiller

Normally, when someone mentions hybrids they are referring to fuel-efficient, money-saving cars. Like hybrid cars, the intention of hybrid long term care insurance policies is to provide cost-saving insurance coverage by combining both life insurance (or an annuity) with long term care coverage.

View Post

Has Investor Complacency Arrived?

In Asset Allocation, Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Investments, Market Review, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

With over 20 years in the investment industry, we have helped clients navigate through a number of economic and market cycles. Through the years, we have developed our own set of descriptive names that are used as an indication of where we are in the market cycle. These names are generally based on client emotions and range from “malaise” to “exuberance”. Currently, we are in what we call the “investor complacency” phase.

View Post

A Lesson In Investing History: How Will You Respond Next Time?

In Asset Allocation, Investments, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

In our office, we celebrated privately the passing of the four year anniversary of what would be a 13 year stock market low point.
That’s right, it has already been four years since March 9, 2009 when the S&P 500 Index closed at 676—a level last seen in the summer of 1996. As of the date of this article, the S&P 500 Index has surpassed its all-time high of 1565, which was achieved in October 2007!

View Post

Beat Inflation With I Bonds

In Asset Allocation, Bonds, Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Financial Planning by Chip Hymiller

In a prior article, we discussed the importance of maintaining an emergency fund.  We offered our insight into how much is appropriate to keep in cash or savings, as well as emergency fund targets.  As a result of that article, we were asked the question:  “Where can I invest my emergency fund, such that it earns an interest rate that …

View Post

Considerations When Investing in Bonds

In Asset Allocation, Bonds, Investments by Chip Hymiller

One of the most important reasons why investors choose to invest in bonds is for their steady and predictable stream of income through interest payments.  Though they are not risk-free (e.g., a bond issuer could default on a payment or even fail to repay the principal), bonds as a whole are considered somewhat less risky than stocks.  

View Post

Taxation of Exchange Traded Funds Can Be Tricky

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

With more than $80 billion invested in exchange traded funds (ETFs), they have become a very popular investment for both retail and institutional investors. While ETFs can be an integral component of a sound investment strategy, investors should understand the tax treatment of these investments in order to avoid unexpected tax consequences.

View Post

Market Corrections are not Unusual

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

he financial markets have experienced continued volatility since the end of April. In fact, with stocks having declined in excess of 10%, the markets have officially entered a period of “correction.” Although corrections are normal (and actually healthy for the markets), many investors may be a bit uneasy, especially with the wounds of the “Great Recession” still fresh in everyone’s mind.

View Post

All Star Portfolio?

In Asset Allocation, Investments, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

A recent USA Today article titled “Finding the All Stars:  How we whittle down the funds” scanned the universe of mutual funds in an attempt to identify a number of “all star” mutual funds.  The list of funds that were selected for the article all have impressive track records and are certainly worthy of consideration in any portfolio.