How to Eliminate Unwanted Junk Mail

Have you ever wondered how to get rid of unwanted junk mail that litters your mail box day after day? Everyday a new catalogue will come, tempting me to buy the latest season’s fashions. Or, a furniture store displays the latest decorating looks and I go into my house and wish I could update my sofa, paint a room, or otherwise do some sort of redecorating in my house. There are some days that the mail never even makes it into my house because it is all junk mail and it goes straight into the garage recycling bin.
If it isn’t catalogues, it is unwanted/unsolicited credit card offers, trying to convince me to switch over to a newer and better credit card. Did you know that credit card solicitations are a large source for identity theft?

 

There are many benefits to reducing or eliminating this type of junk mail, but how? In reading the latest issue of Consumer Reports Magazine, I found out. Go to https://www.dmachoice.org and you can sign up to eliminate credit card offers and be taken off lists for catalogues and magazine subscriptions. By doing this, you can reduce your chances of identity theft, help the environment by not getting so much paper, and help your bank account by reducing your temptations to buy unplanned for and potential unneeded merchandise.

 

- Sharon Kinter, Para-Financial Planner and Budget Coach, 20-Feb-2011

Top 5 Tips for Filing a Clean Tax Return

The deadline for filing tax returns this year has been extended from April 15, 2011 to April 18, 2011.  According to IRS sources, audits of individual tax returns are up 100% since 2001. Here is a short list of some best practices to keep in mind as you file your return for this year:

1. Report All Income-Do not exclude a single penny
2. Verify Donations with back-up documentation

 

3. Accurately deduct auto mileage and be sure to include documentation.

 

4. Carefully report capital transactions

 

5. Avoid minor mistakes like transposing numbers on a social security number, math errors and having an incorrect filing status.
Lastly, it appears that when an individual takes advantage of filing electronically, there are 2 benefits. First, there is a lower error rate and second, audits on electronically filed returns are lower.

 

- Jennifer Luzzatto,  CFA, CFP, NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, 2-Feb-2011

- Sharon Kinter, Para-Financial Planner and Budget Coach, 2-Feb-2011

“Fee-Only” versus “Fee-Based”…Is there a Difference?

Fee only questionsWe have received feedback from many of our clients that they would prefer to receive the Summit Financial Planning newsletter via e-mail as opposed to a print copy. After much discussion about the advantages and disadvanages of each, we have made a corporate decision to go with an e-mail only newsletter. In this day and age of rapidly changing technology, we at Summit are continuously evaluating our internal processes, leveraging technology where it makes sense and is in the best interest of the client. So, I hope that you like it. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me. 

Enjoy!  Jennifer

 

I am always impressed when new clients come into my office because they have always done their homework.  They have researched the differences between Fee-Only, Fee-Based and Commissioned Financial planners and have decided that they are most comfortable with a planner and investment advisor whose interests are aligned with theirs – a Fee-Only planner.  Oddly, although these new clients have come to a place of commitment to working with a Fee-only advisor, they often will label Summit as a Fee-Based Registered Investment Advisor instead of our true nature as a Fee-OnlyRegistered Investment Advisor.  The clients understand exactly what they are looking for, a true Fee-Only advisor, but the commission world has twisted the label that they have been presented with.

The concept of “Fee Based” is a way for commission based advisors to appear as though they too are compensated strictly by their client’s planning fees.  But the ugly truth is that they charge for putting together a financial plan and then also earn commission for implementing that plan. To me, this is the worst of all scenarios, as the layers of fees are deeper than working for straight commission, and much deeper than working with a Fee-Only advisor.

The fees involved in making investments can be very difficult to discern, and it takes some experience and education to know exactly what fees are being levied on an investment.

It is very important to understand the fees that are being paid from an investment.  After all, it is the client’s money!   The ability of an investment to grow can be greatly hobbled by unknown fees.

If a client pays the advisor a fee to put a financial plan together, and then earns a 5.75% mutual fund commission on the Class A shares that are purchased as a result of that plan, and the mutual fund has high annual expenses as well, the client’s ability to fund his or her goals has taken a back seat to the fees that are incurred.

In my opinion, that is not in any way working towards the best interest of a client.   No matter which kind of planner a client is working with, they deserve full disclosure and transparency of fees.