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1
How Will the Obama Stimulus Package Affect You?
2
Mortgage Rates are Likely at the Bottom
3
Social Security “Free Loan” Loophole Redux
4
Hewitt Data Show Jump in 401(k) Company Stock Investments
5
Returning to our Roots

How Will the Obama Stimulus Package Affect You?

How Will the Obama Stimulus Plan Affect You?

Photo by MVI

Making Work Pay credit

Most employees will receive a $400 ($800 for joint returns) tax credit in tax years 2009 and 2010. You should see this credit almost immediately in the form of reduced taxes withheld from your paycheck throughout the remainder of 2009. The IRS has revised the withholding schedules that your employer uses to calculate taxes withheld from your paycheck. You should receive the credit automatically. The tax credit begins to phase out if your income is above $75,000 or $150,000 for joint returns.


First-time Homebuyer credit

First-time homebuyers that purchase between January 1, 2009

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Mortgage Rates are Likely at the Bottom

image by: jacobms

image by: jacobms

By buying back hundreds of billions in mortgage securities and treasury bonds, the Federal Reserve is doing everything it can to lower long-term interest rates. Consequently, mortgage rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have recently averaged around 4.75% according to Zillow.com. That is down from about 6% in mid-November.

The Fed began driving mortgage rates down last November when it announced plans to purchase a half trillion dollars of mortgage-backed securities within a year. That number has since expanded to $1.25 trillion dollars. The Fed is also buying back long-term Treasury bonds, whose pricing affects mortgage rates.

However, …

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Social Security “Free Loan” Loophole Redux

Researchers over at Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research have analyzed the “interest-free loan” opportunity presented by the loophole in Social Security that I’ve discussed before. Once their findings reach Congress, I’m betting this loophole gets closed.

Alicia Munnell and her colleagues at the Center recently published a short note in which they examine the potential impact of the loophole.  The idea is this: normally, once you retire, your Social Security retirement benefit level is locked in – other than adjustments for inflation, it can’t go higher.  The older you are when you start taking Social Security, the bigger your …

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Hewitt Data Show Jump in 401(k) Company Stock Investments

Hewitt Data Show JumpHewitt Associates, the HR consulting firm, tracks 401(k) investing trends for 1.5 million employees of large (> 5,000 employee) companies. Their January 401(k) plan data show a curious fact: employees put more money into their employers’ stock than into any other category.

The Hewitt data are by no means comprehensive, as there are over 50 million 401(k) plan participants in the country, but theirs is one of the few surveys that tracks 401(k) investment behavior in the recent past – the most comprehensive retirement plan data are often more than a year old.  Hewitt’s index is interesting because it …

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Returning to our Roots

Lately, many people have asked me if they should consider turning their equity positions into cash. I know it is hard to see the S&P 500 decline like it has, and there is no denying that we are in the midst of a terrible bear market. However, it is important to remember that we are in the MIDST of the decline, not the beginning. The time to sell was 17 months ago, not now.

Unless you’re on the doorstep to retirement, you still have years to allow the market to work for you, not against you. A long-term investor should …

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