Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2012

August Financial Market Performance

On the back of a relatively good earnings season, August saw moderate gains, with the S&P 500 Index nearly surpassing its year-to-date high during the month. Domestic large-cap stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, gained 2.25% for the month, while small- and mid-cap stocks fared even better. Foreign stocks were mixed; developed markets, as measured by the MSCI World ex-U.S. Index, rose 2.85% while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.33%. The bond market was relatively flat in August: Treasuries and the Barclays Municipal 1-10 Year Index fell slightly, while the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index inched up 0.07% for the month. High-yield bonds, however, continued to fare well, with the Barclays U.S. Corporate High-Yield Index gaining 1.17%. (Source: Morningstar.   Please note that it is not possible to invest directly in to an index.) Overall, the economy remains sluggish. This is reflected in mild second-quarter GDP growth numbers, recently revised upwards from

How to collect Social Security on a former spouse

We help many clients who are going through or have been divorced.   A very common question in these cases, or at least one which should be asked but often isn't, is "What are the rules regarding Social Security in a divorce?"   I hope that my explanation below clarifies this question somewhat. The basic rules to collect on an ex spouse are that a person must have been married at least 10 years and divorced at least two years, and not be remarried.   The exes don't have to coordinate their claiming strategies or even communicate with each other.   They can collect benefits independently as long as the ex-spouse is eligible for benefits, even if he or she hasn't yet filed for benefits. A divorced spouse can collect his or her own reduced benefits as early as 62 but is subject to the earnings cap if working while collecting benefits.   This year, $1 in Social Security benefits is lost for every $2 earned over this year's limit of $14,640 (Source: www.s

Helping People

I recently flew to Boston to meet with a couple who were referred to us by the husband's brother for whom we had completed a comprehensive financial review.   I will call them John and Judy, although these are not their real names to protect their privacy.   John was a non-profit and foundation consultant whose business was significantly down due to some health issues he has had and Judy works for a software technology company.   They had two grown sons.   John is 60 and Judy 59.   Judy was also having some health issues due to her stress from work and working long hours.   They, like many of the people we initially meet, were not confident that they could reduce their current savings so that Judy could perhaps work less, or work a day or two from home, and still be able to have enough to retire in a few years.   They were very diligent savers and had saved quite a bit in assets which were spread across many disparate accounts with no real portfolio management plan.   We ran vari