Friday, September 23, 2016

Life Happens



No one knows what the future holds. Hopefully, only good things are in store for you.

But realistically, bad things will happen too.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a cautious person, you take little steps every day to improve the odds that good things will happen and guard against the possibility of bad things happening.

You wear seat belts.

You lock your doors when you leave home.

You try to eat well and exercise.

In other words, you may not be able to control the future, but you can stand up to it. You don’t have to get wet when it rains. You can carry an umbrella.

True, it’s easy to take these little steps. The bigger steps, though, can require contemplating some pretty unpleasant things.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Key Tax Tips on the Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

Income tax may be the last thing on your mind after a divorce or separation. However, these events can have a big impact on your taxes. Alimony and a name change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind if you get divorced or separated.

  • Child Support.  If you pay child support, you can’t deduct it on your tax return. If you receive child support, the amount you receive is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  If you make payments under a divorce or separate maintenance decree or written separation agreement you may be able to deduct them as alimony. This applies only if the payments qualify as alimony for federal tax purposes. If the decree or agreement does not require the payments, they do not qualify as alimony.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse's traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, notify the Social Security Administration of the change. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can delay your refund. 

Health Care Law Considerations

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Life Insurance: Why Do I Need It? What Does It Do?


So, why do you need life insurance?

What often comes to mind when thinking about life insurance is that you can use it to pay final expenses. You've seen the commercials: Funeral expenses, burial costs and medical bills can add up to a hefty amount. The last thing you want is for your loved ones to shoulder this extra burden. Life insurance can be used to plan for these final expenses. Permanent life insurance is available in various amounts, so you can pick a death benefit that meets your needs.

But there are other considerations to keep in mind. You can use life insurance …

As mortgage protection. Whether you live by yourself, with a spouse or significant other, you may want to buy life insurance as mortgage protection. Think about it: You don’t want the person you live with to be homeless if you die unexpectedly, do you? Term life insurance can be used to pay off an outstanding mortgage balance. Just select a term that matches the length of your mortgage payment period. Some companies even offer decreasing term insurance, which means the death benefit decreases along with your mortgage balance.

For income replacement. You and your significant other may have planned for a future based on two incomes, but what if one of you passes away unexpectedly? Life insurance can be used to replace the lost income so the survivor can maintain the same standard of living.

For college funding. Yeah, I know. You don’t have kids, so this one only applies if you do or if you have grandchildren you want to help. Have you seen the tuition rates lately? Life insurance can help fund a college education. If you die, the death benefit may be invested and potentially grow to the needed amount by the time your children or grandchildren reach college age. If you have permanent policies, the cash value may be used to help fund tuition costs. Feel better knowing that you helped prepare for their future—even if you are not there to see it.

Are You Ready to be a First Time Home Buyer?

Now, more than ever, is a great time to be a first time home buyer. Housing costs are low, interest rates are at a record low, and you don’t own a home that you have to worry about selling and most likely lose a profit. However, just because it is an ideal time to make that next step, you need to ensure that buying a home is the right choice for you and your current situation.

Buying a home can be fun, exciting, liberating, and a great investment, but it comes with great responsibility, is labor intensive, and a large financial commitment. Once a purchase is made, you are responsible for anything that goes wrong in the house. A new roof, plumbing, new appliances, cutting the lawn, and snow removal now lay in your hands, not a landlord’s.

A few steps to take to figure out if you are ready to be a first time home buyer include:

  • Check selling prices in the area you want to live. This will give you some good insight as to how much you will have to pay for the size house that you will need to accommodate you and your lifestyle. Zillow is a great site to see for how much homes in the area have recently sold.
  • See how much you can afford. A great tool to use is a mortgage calculator. This allows you to enter the price of the home, the interest rate, the loan term, as well as the property taxes. This will give you a good idea as to how much your monthly housing expenses will be and if it is something you can or cannot afford.
  • Get an idea as to how much you will pay in closing costs. This area gets confusing for most. You will see a lot of banks advertise: “No points, no closing costs.” If this is the case, you are paying a slightly higher rate, so that the loan officer gets paid more, so that he or she can use that extra money to pay your closing costs. If you don’t want to pay a chunk of money out of pocket, this may be a good option for you. Otherwise, you can choose to receive the lowest interest rate possible and pay the closing costs out of pocket. The fees that are included in closing costs are: Origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowner’s insurance or homeowner’s association fees.
  • Look at your budget. Fannie Mae recommends that buyers spend no more than 28% of their income on housing costs.
  • Pick up the phone. Make some calls to your local banks and see who is offering the lowest interest rate. Most will be in the same range, but a few points can make a big difference. Ask questions.
  • Make sure your credit is in good standing. One of the largest factors of getting a good interest rate is having good credit. The better the credit score, the lower the rate. The worse your credit score is the higher rate you will receive. In some cases if your credit is so bad, you won’t qualify for a loan at all.
  • Inquire about different loan programs. There are several programs out there now that help you to qualify for a home loan. A few include: Mass Housing, FHA, and Veteran’s loans. These are all great programs if you qualify and may more affordable than a conventional loan.

If you follow these basic guidelines then you should successfully be on your way to being a first time home buyer. Here at Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc., we have seamlessly guided thousands of home owners and business people through the buying and selling process. We work with a great local network of realtors, mortgage advisors, closing attorneys and home inspectors. Check out our Events Page to register for our next First Time Home Buyer Seminar happening tonight Wednesday 09/21/2016. If you have any questions regarding the purchase of your first home or would like us to guide you through, please feel free to contact us at: 800-560-4637.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Think Life Insurance




Do you have enough coverage? Contact us today for your FREE analysis and find out!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why People Buy Life Insurance

If you are asking yourself why you should buy life insurance, here are some reasons why some of our other clients have bought life insurance....

For the Death Benefit:

  • To replace earning power at death
  • To pay for cash needs that arise at death

As a Disciplined Savings Program*:

  • To help pay for educational costs
  • To supplement retirement income
  • To take advantage of business opportunities
  • For Financial Emergencies

Because of the Risk of Waiting:

  • To replace earning power at death
  • To pay for cash needs that arise at death

For the Tax Advantages:

  • Death proceeds are received free of income tax
  • Cash value accumulations are tax deferred
  • Cash value loans or withdrawals* are free of tax, as long as the policy stays in force
  • Accelerated death benefits are received free of income tax

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Life Insurance - Why Now?

This is the award winning video created by Jeffrey Schweitzer of NFS-Northeast Financial Strategies for Life Insurance Awareness Month back in September 2011.







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Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day From NFS



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