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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.

Retirement

  • SEP IRAs

    A SEP IRA is a type of plan under which the employer contributes (up to a certain limit) to an employee’s IRA.

  • SIMPLE IRAs

    The SIMPLE plan may appeal to small business owners as it is easy to set up, administer, and allows for a tax deduction.

  • IRA Rollover

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

  • Roth 401(k)

    A Roth 401(k) is funded with after-tax money, and allows for tax- and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings if requirements are met.

  • 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.

  • A New Chapter for Retirement

    With the changing pension landscape, it is important to take charge of your own retirement security.

  • Planning Options

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Save Now or Save Later

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

  • Roth IRAs

    Qualified Roth IRA distributions in retirement are free of federal income tax and aren’t included in gross income.

Tax Planning

  • Capital Gain Tax

    Capital gains are profits realized from the sale of assets; a tax is triggered only when an asset is sold, not held.

  • Retirement Plan Limits

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

  • Retirement Plan Taxes

    With traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn.

  • Tax Deferral

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

  • 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 Insurance Upgrades

    A 1035 exchange allows you to exchange your life insurance policy for one from another company without tax liability.

Investing

  • Diversification

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

  • Bonds

    A bond is simply evidence of a debt from a government entity or a corporation and represents a long-term IOU.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Asset Allocation

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

  • College Investment Options

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

  • 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.

  • Cash Management Tools

    Short-term cash management instruments can help you establish a sound cash management program.

  • Managing Cash

    There are numerous investment alternatives available to help provide liquidity.

Risk Management

  • Why Purchase Life Insurance

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

  • Annuities as an Insurance Product

    An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company to pay you future income in exchange for premiums you pay.

  • Business Owner Policies

    A business owner policy is an insurance package that assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle.

  • Life Insurance for Business Owners

    Company-owned life insurance is one way to help protect a business from financial problems caused by the death of a key employee.

  • Last-Survivor Life Insurance

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

  • 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.

  • Insuring Your Future

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

  • Long-Term Care Costs

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

  • Types of Life Insurance

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