Author - Troy Von Haefen, CFP®

1
What Mutual Funds May Be Costing You (Part I)
2
Is The Government CARS Program a Winner or Clunker?
3
Which Of My Charitable Donations Aren’t Tax Deductible?
4
Help Me “Show You the Money”
5
When Buying or Refinancing a Home You Should….

What Mutual Funds May Be Costing You (Part I)

One of the aspects of investing that is often over-shadowed by investment returns is the importance of expense ratios in mutual funds. These expenses can erode returns and are often misunderstood by investors. Expense ratios are the fees paid to the fund itself by investors like you and me. These fees are expressed as a percentage and go to cover the costs of running the fund.

Expense Ratio

The expense ratio of a mutual fund wraps several fees into one number making it somewhat easy to understand. The number is expressed as a percentage of assets under management. For example, …

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Is The Government CARS Program a Winner or Clunker?

CARS ProgramThe auto industry is jumping for joy over the “Cash for Clunkers” program.  The program has dealerships across the country scrambling to find supply to fill the demand.  The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Ford Motor Company expects its first year-over-year monthly increase since 2007. It’s no doubt that this program is bringing out the buyers, but is it good for the consumer?

You May Overspend

While this cash incentive can really help stimulate auto sales, it may not be stimulative for some folks’ bottom line.  The reason for my concern is that the program may incent a buyer …

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Which Of My Charitable Donations Aren’t Tax Deductible?

So you bought a painting at a charitable auction only to be told by your tax preparer it’s not deductible. You even paid the charity directly. You even have a receipt. What gives?

Rather than cite tax code lingo, let’s talk in understandable terms. If you buy something at a charitable auction, it’s only deductible if you pay more than the value of the goods or services you received.

Example 1. A $50 gift certificate to a local favorite restaurant purchased for $40 is not deductible.

Example 2. The same $50 gift certificate purchased for $60 generates a $10 charitable …

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Help Me “Show You the Money”

Help Me - "Show You The Money"I recall the locker room scene in the movie Jerry McGuire where Tom Cruise was struggling to keep his only sports management client, Rod Tidwell. Jerry was pleading with Tidwell, “Help Me Help You!”

Tax preparation is an area where tax preparers need your help to help you. Sometimes items can fall through the cracks and end up costing you tax dollars. The way to prevent this is by proactively talking with your tax preparer. While I work very hard to know my clients, sometimes CPAs don’t have the luxury, due to the enormous number of returns prepared, to know …

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When Buying or Refinancing a Home You Should….

Make sure you understand the fine print!

It’s a great time to buy or refinance a home. Interest rates are extremely low (As of Jan 2009 a no points, 30 year fixed, mortgage rate of 5% is very common). While this great interest rate opportunity creates a terrific chance to lower your monthly payment, it also can create confusion. The confusion lies in understanding the good faith estimate (GFE) and the HUD closing statement.

The GFE is the proposal the lender sends to you outlining your projected closing costs and the new mortgage payment amount. So often people will only …

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