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75% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2016 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.

  • 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.

  • Wealth Replacement Trusts

    A wealth replacement trust could be used to gift appreciated assets to a charity as well as provide for heirs.

  • History of the Federal Estate Tax

Retirement

  • 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.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

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

  • 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

  • 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 Deductions

    Changes to the tax code have left a few key deductions for itemizers, like medical, dental and some business expenses.

  • Tax-Advantaged Alternatives

    While stable, CDs can create quite an income tax bill. Fixed annuities and municipal bonds can offer tax advantages.

  • 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.

  • Mutual Fund Profits

    Want to keep more of your mutual fund profits? You may be interested in strategies to help lower your tax liability.

Investing

  • Diversification

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

  • 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.

  • Closed-End Funds

    With closed-end funds, investors pool their money together to purchase a professionally managed portfolio of stocks and/or bonds.

  • Mutual Fund Loads

    It’s important to understand mutual fund loads, or sales charges, and exactly what they entail so you can make informed investing decisions.

  • 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.

  • College Savings Plans

    There are several funding methods for a child's college education including mutual funds and Section 529 plans.

  • College Investment Options

    Starting to invest early for college and remaining consistent can help investors reach their goals.

  • Stock and Bond Investing Alternatives

    There are other ways to invest in stocks and bonds besides owning individual shares or bonds.

  • Dollar-Cost Averaging

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

  • 529 Plans

    529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings plans that generally allow people of any income level to contribute.

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.

  • Savings Alternatives

    There are a number of savings alternatives that could help you earn a reasonable rate of return.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Universal Life Insurance

    Consider a universal life insurance policy if you want the flexibility to change your premium or death benefit.

  • Variable Life Insurance

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

  • Auto Insurance

    Even if your state doesn’t require certain types of auto insurance, it may be wise to purchase multiple types to ensure you are covered for a variety of situations.

  • Maximizing Your Insurance Benefits

    Several factors could undermine the financial security provided by the proceeds of your life insurance policy.

  • Insuring Your Future

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

  • Protecting Your Home

    Since your home is one of your greatest assets, you should make sure it is adequately protected. That's where homeowners insurance enters the picture.

  • Assessing Disability Income Insurance

    Knowing the basics of a disability income insurance policy is a good first step toward protecting your family.

  • Types of Health Coverage

    There are three basic types of medical insurance plans: fee-for-service, managed care, and high-deductible health plan.

  • Additional Liability Coverage

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

  • HMOs and PPOs
  • Evaluating Insurance Companies

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

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.

  • Medicare Coverage

    Medicare is the federal health insurance program for those persons age 65 and over. But what does it cover?

 

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