2018 year-end financial planning is a lot different than in previous years, because it is the first full year after the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The good news is that for millions of Americans, the new code should make filing easier. That’s because nearly 90 percent of taxpayers are likely to claim the standard deduction this year, up from 70 percent last year.
It was an exhausting week for investors, even though there were only four trading sessions. Monday’s U.S.-China 90-day trade “time out” stock bounce was dwarfed by big sell-offs throughout the rest of the week. The drubbing began after the President’s tweet that he is a “tariff man,” shortly followed by another, which questioned whether a “real deal” with Beijing is actually possible.
Two words from Fed Chair Jerome Powell moved markets last week: “JUST BELOW.” He was talking about short-term interest rates, which are just below neutral, a Goldilocks level that is designed to neither speed up-nor slow down-economic growth. Powell’s assessment was a change from a comment he made in early October, when he said rates were a “long way” from neutral.
A rising stock market, a strengthening economy and a change in the tax code propelled charitable giving by American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations to just over $410 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017. It was the first time that giving exceeded $400 billion in a single year.
I have always had a special place in my heart for caregivers. According to a new study from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, family and friends are assuming more of the responsibility of caring for the nation’s growing senior population, often at the expense of their own personal and professional lives. For about one-quarter of these “informal caregivers,” the amount of time they spend providing care each week is the equivalent of a full-time job.
There’s a FIRE spreading in the world of personal finance. FIRE is the acronym that stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early.” It’s popular with Millennials (which Pew Research now defines as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, or ages 22 to 37 in 2018) who want to escape soul-sucking jobs that don’t reflect their values. The movement has added to the chorus of naysayers, who complain about the generation’s work ethic, but I believe that FIRE followers are doing what they should be doing: taking control of their financial lives.