Our Weekend Word

A Guide to Federal Veterans Benefits

There are two separate agencies overseen by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration. The Veterans Health Administration determines eligibility for medical benefits, while the Veterans Benefits Administration determines eligibility for financial benefits. The agencies operate independently and have separate eligibility criteria for their programs. As such, if you qualify for medical benefits, it does not guarantee that you will qualify for financial benefits.

 

Eligibility for medical and monetary benefits depends on your discharge status. Generally, a veteran will satisfy the discharge requirement if his or her classification is “honorable” or “general under honorable conditions.” A veteran with a discharge classification of “other than honorable conditions,” “bad conduct,” or “dishonorable” may not be eligible for VA benefits.

Tax Documents

So, it’s that time of year again… tax time.  Here is you guide to understanding what tax forms you need to look for.

Jack Bogle & His Legacy

On January 16th John “Jack” Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group passed away.  Jack was a giant in the investment world and made a name for himself as index investing pioneer. Jack believed that investing in efficient, low cost funds was best for the average investor.  By using index funds, the idea was to approximate the return of the index instead of hoping to beat it with active management.  Overtime his philosophies and advice garnered a cult like following (named the Bogleheads).

How to go about Bonds

Bonds have historically been an extremely important part of an investor’s portfolio. They provide relative value stability when compared to stocks and a stream of income for the investor. We’ve previously talked about what bonds you can own (http://www.laurelfinancialgroup.com/content/different-breeds-bonds), but there is also the question of how to own them.

Basically, we have two options here: we can own individual bonds, or we can own them in some sort of investment product like a mutual fund.

The Kiddie Tax 2019

The IRS’s kiddie tax rules limit parents’ ability to transfer investment assets to a minor child in order to take advantage of the child’s lower marginal tax bracket.

Behind The Scenes

That trading combined with high-frequency traders, index funds, and market makers accounted for roughly 85% of trading volume according to Marlo Kolanovic of JP Morgan. 

What Year Is It?

Investors are unhappy because the Fed is raising rates even though inflation appears quiet. The president is ready to slap tariffs on the world's No. 2 economy. The media and Congress are putting pressure on the president that may result in an impeachment vote. The stock market had been doing well early in the year, but was slammed in the second half.

2019 Economic and Market Outlook: Not a Bad Place to Be

As we approach year-end, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Over the past several years, despite mounting worries about politics and other issues, the economy—and the stock market—have kept growing. In the first half of 2018, the markets were moving higher, albeit with a few breakdowns, and economic growth was accelerating. People were increasingly confident, believing the worst was behind us. It seemed we had finally found a safe place after the heartaches and losses of the financial crisis.

End of the Year Checklist

I am not entirely sure where the rest of the year went but it’s December now… just three short weeks and we will have made it through another year.  So, before the year is out let’s take a second to double check you’re in a good place this year and have a head start on 2019

Secure Holiday Shopping: New Tips for 2018

Although the holiday season is known for gift giving and good cheer, it’s also known for an increase in cybercrime and identity theft. Before you get a jump start on your holiday shopping, follow these four tips to ensure that you’re protecting yourself this season.