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79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Estate Planning

    Wills and trusts allow you to spell out how you would like your property distributed, but they also go beyond that.

  • Living Trusts

    A living trust can help control the distribution of your estate upon death.

  • Avoiding Probate

    The probate process can be lengthy and complex. There are strategies you can use to help avoid the probate process.

  • Charitable Giving

    To retain the tax advantages associated with charitable giving, your gift must be made to a qualified organization.

  • Gifting Strategies

    Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different gifting strategies available for planned giving.

  • Charitable Lead Trusts

    Charitable lead trusts are designed for people who would like to benefit a charity now rather than later.

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts

    A designated income beneficiary could receive payment of a specified amount from a charitable remainder trust.

  • History of the Federal Estate Tax

    Careful estate planning is still one of the most important ways to manage and protect your assets for your heirs.

Retirement

  • Stretch IRAs

    A “stretch” or “multigenerational” IRA may be a useful approach to extend tax-deferred savings that can benefit your heirs for generations.

  • IRA Rollover

    If you leave a job or retire, you should consider your options regarding your employer retirement plan assets.

  • Why Purchase Annuities

    Annuities, an insurance-based financial vehicle, can provide many benefits that retirement investors might want.

  • Split-Annuity Strategy

    A split-annuity strategy can generate immediate income while potentially stretching some retirement savings.

  • Annuity Living Benefits

    Living benefits can help protect variable annuity owners from running out of money in retirement.

  • How Much Do I Need to Save?

    Many realize it’s important to save for retirement, but knowing exactly how much to save is another issue altogether.

  • Planning Options

    There are a variety of retirement planning options that could help meet your needs. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Future of Social Security

    Greater demand is being placed on the Social Security system as the baby boom generation has begun to retire.

  • Social Security Income

    The Social Security Administration’s retirement estimator gives estimates of your future benefits based on your actual Social Security earnings record.

  • Indexed Annuities

    An indexed annuity may provide some upside potential and downside protection.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

    When receiving money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have two options: lump sum or annuity.

  • Traditional IRAs

    If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might consider a traditional IRA.

  • 401(k) Plans

    401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plans have many benefits, including that the funds accumulate tax-deferred.

  • Managing Retirement Plans

    Employer-sponsored retirement plans are more important than ever, but managing the assets can be confusing.

  • Save Now or Save Later

    If you start saving for retirement sooner, the more money you are likely to accumulate and possibly retire sooner.

Tax Planning

  • Retirement Plan Limits

    IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are subject to annual contribution limits set by the federal government.

  • Required Minimum Distributions

    Required minimum distribution is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a qualified retirement plan/account.

  • Tax Deferral

    There can be a substantial benefit to deferring taxes as long as possible.

  • Tax-Advantaged Investments

    Many traditional tax-advantaged investment strategies have gone away, but there are still some alternatives.

  • Tax Strategies for Retirement Plans

    Consider a trustee-to-trustee transfer to an IRA versus a lump-sum distribution from a workplace retirement plan.

  • Tax-Free Investments

    It’s important to understand tax-exempt vehicles when establishing a comprehensive tax planning strategy.

Investing

  • Dividends

    It is important to understand how dividends (taxable payments to shareholders) fit with your long-term goals.

  • Exchange-Traded Funds

    ETFs have unique attributes and attempt to track all types of indexes, industries, or commodities.

  • Growth Stocks vs. Value Stocks

    The labels “growth” and “value” reflect different approaches that can be used when making investment decisions.

  • Mutual Fund Taxes

    Mutual fund taxes can be cumbersome, but there are ways to help mitigate the amount of taxes you may owe.

  • Diversification

    An important element to successful investing is to manage investment risk while maintaining the potential for growth.

  • Types of Bonds

    Bonds are issued by many entities and share many characteristics, each type of bond has certain benefits and risks.

  • Stock Indexes

    Stock market indexes can be useful benchmarks for gauging the performance of an investment portfolio over time.

  • Mutual Funds vs. Stocks

    The difference between purchasing an individual stock versus shares in a mutual fund to potentially earn dividends.

  • Mutual Funds

    A mutual fund is a collection of stocks, bonds, and other securities with certain benefits and risks.

  • Annuities

    An annuity is a flexible financial vehicle that can help protect against the risk of living a long time because it provides an option for a lifetime income.

  • Fixed vs. Variable Annuities

    Both fixed and variable annuities could be appropriate options for an individual interested in purchasing an annuity.

  • Investment Risks

    Understanding different types of investment risk can help investors manage their money more effectively.

  • Asset Classes

    There are five broad asset classes that you should take into consideration when constructing your investment portfolio.

  • Asset Allocation

    Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.

  • Dollar-Cost Averaging

    Dollar-cost averaging involves investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, regardless of market conditions.

Cash Management

  • Cash Management Basics

    A sound cash management program uses a disciplined approach: accounting, analysis, allocation, and adjustment.

  • Doubling Your Money

    Before making investment decisions, it is helpful to determine the real rate of return on the investment.

  • Biweekly Mortgages

    Biweekly mortgage payments can have a dramatic effect on the amount of interest homeowners have to pay.

  • Smart Financing Ideas

    Here are some smart ways to refinance your home.

  • Effects of Inflation

    Historically, one of the best ways to fight the effects of inflation has been to utilize growth-oriented investments.

  • Home Equity Loans

    Shifting some debt to a home equity loan, which typically allows interest payments to be tax deductible, could have its advantages.

Risk Management

  • Why Purchase Life Insurance

    If you have a family who relies on your income, it is important to have life insurance protection.

  • Last-Survivor Life Insurance

    Couples who want to help protect their legacy from estate taxes could consider last-survivor life insurance.

  • Disability Income Insurance for Business Owners

    As a business owner, a disability can create an economic hardship putting both your personal finances and business at risk.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Whole Life Insurance

    Some of the pros and cons of whole life insurance.

  • Variable Life Insurance

    Variable life insurance gives you the control to allocate your account value among a variety of investment options.

  • Insuring Your Future

    To help you choose insurance wisely, determine how much coverage and what kind of policy is best for your situation.

  • Additional Liability Coverage

    Consider additional liability insurance to help protect you from the potentially devastating effects of liability lawsuits.

  • HMOs and PPOs

    Selecting health insurance is often one of the most important decisions you will make. Do you know the different types?

  • Evaluating Insurance Companies

    Using a financially sound insurance company is an important part of ensuring your family’s financial security.

  • Types of Life Insurance

    When selecting a life insurance policy, examine all your options, as well as the positives and negatives of each type.