Mark P. Cussen, CFP®, CMFC, AFC

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  1. Retirement

    2010: The Year To Convert Your IRA

    Thanks to fewer restrictions, it's now easier than ever to convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.
  2. Retirement

    5 Investments You Can't Hold In An IRA/Qualified Plan

    The list of prohibited investment vehicles is short, but it's important to know what is off limits.
  3. Taxes

    Understanding The Insurance Transfer-For-Value Rule

    If you are banking on your life insurance payout being tax-free, you may be in for a surprise.
  4. Investing Basics

    The Best Investments For Young People

    Young investors today who wish to begin a savings plan face a bewildering array of investment options.
  5. Retirement

    7 Counterintuitive Retirement Strategies That Work

    We address seven investment misconceptions, and how you can make your retirement plan make sense.
  6. A Closer Look At Accelerated Benefit Riders
    Insurance

    A Closer Look At Accelerated Benefit Riders

    Accelerated benefit riders can allow policy holders to access the death benefit in their life insurance policy while they are still living if they meet certain conditions. Knowing what you get for what ...
  7. Saving for college can be a daunting task. These strategies can help to make the process a little easier.
    Savings

    Top Strategies For Saving In A 529 Plan

    Saving for college can be a daunting task. These 8 strategies can help to make the process a little easier.
  8. 529 Plans are a popular way to save for college. But exactly how you approach this can differ according to the type and location of the school at which the student will attend.
    Savings

    Managing A 529 Plan Based On College Expectations

    529 Plans are a popular way to save for college. Here's how to be strategic about how to fund them, depending on your children and their expectations.
  9. Budgeting

    Last-Minute Strategies To Help Pay For College

    Find out what to do when your kid is ready for higher education, but you aren't.
  10. Taxes

    How To Appeal Your IRS Audit

    The auditor's review isn't always the last word. Many taxpayers who are audited can successfully appeal their audits and save thousands of dollars.
  11. There are many banks and institutions that offer student loans, but some are better than others. Here is a list of the top student loan providers.
    Credit & Loans

    Top Student Loan Providers

    Many banks and institutions offer student loans, but some offer better deals than others. Read this list of top student loan providers before you borrow.
  12. Taxes

    Cut Your Tax Bill With Donor-Advised Funds

    Beat the tax man come April 15 by investing in a charity-friendly fund.
  13. Debt consolidation is a fairly simple concept. The borrower takes out a new loan that will pay off one or more existing loans, and the new loan usually requires a lower monthly payment than the monthly totals of the previous debt.
    Credit & Loans

    Debt Consolidation: When It Helps, When It Doesn't

    Here's the smart way to use a debt consolidation to get your financial life back on track
  14. Different loan sources to use when you consolidate debt.
    Credit & Loans

    7 Ways To Consolidate Debt

    Different loan sources to use when you consolidate debt.
  15. A home equity loan or line of credit is a convenient way to consolidate debts, cut your interest rate and gain a tax deduction. But there are big risks.
    Credit & Loans

    Using Home Equity Loans For Debt Consolidation

    A home equity loan or line of credit is a convenient way to consolidate debts, cut your interest rate and gain a tax deduction. But there are big risks.
  16. Personal Finance

    Special Trusts For Special Needs

    If you or someone you love has a disability, these trusts can help ease the cost of care.
  17. By midlife, you're likely to have accumulated a string of IRAs, 401(k)s and the like.
    Retirement

    Consolidating Your Retirement Money

    By midlife, you're likely to have accumulated a string of IRAs, 401(k)s and the like. This tutorial helps you organize them around your retirement goals.
  18. New, more-flexible features and current market conditions make old-fashioned whole life insurance worth another look.
    Insurance

    Is Whole Life An Obsolete Product?

    New, more-flexible features and current market conditions make traditional whole life insurance worth another look.
  19. Comprehensive financial plans can help people maximize their financial potential and make smart decisions.
    Savings

    What Kind Of Financial Plan Makes Sense For You?

    Comprehensive financial plans can help people maximize their financial potential and make smart decisions. But how complex a plan do you really need?
  20. Many 401(k) plans now allow plan participants to trade stocks and bonds on a tax-qualified basis by offering brokerage accounts inside the plan.
    Retirement

    The Rise of 401(k) Brokerage Accounts

    Many 401(k) plans now allow participants to trade stocks and bonds by offering brokerage accounts inside the tax-deferred plan. Good idea or too risky?
  21. Target date mutual funds can be an alternative to bonds and CDs for investors who do not wish to actively manage their savings.
    Retirement

    An Introduction To Target Date Funds

    Target date mutual funds can be an alternative to bonds and CDs for investors who do not wish to actively manage their savings. The reason: These financial products periodically reallocate fund holdings ...
  22. Annuitization has traditionally offered annuity owners a stream of income they cannot outlive, but there are some disadvantages to this form of payout.
    Retirement

    Is Annuitization Your Best Strategy?

    Annuitization has traditionally offered annuity owners a stream of income they cannot outlive, but there are some disadvantages to this form of payout. Consider alternatives, such as income-benefit riders, ...
  23. Retirement

    Bulk Up Your Retirement

    If your business has receiveables, here's a smart way to leverage them to build up your retirement fund – fast
  24. Be strategic about which card to use
    Credit & Loans

    Credit vs. Debit Cards: Which is Better?

    Be strategic about the card you choose
  25. The way for higher-income earners to access Roth IRAs and grow their retirement funds.
    Retirement

    How Can I Fund A Roth IRA If My Income Is Too High To Make ...

    Roth IRAs are not available to you if you are a high income earner - unless you use the following strategy.
  26. Ignoring the new IRA rollover rule could cost taxpayers plenty
    Retirement

    Avoid Taxes on IRA Rollovers

    For years, IRA owners have been allowed to roll over their money from one IRA to another once a year without penalty, for each IRA account they had. A tax court ruling in January 2014 has brought that ...
  27. Six Ways Your Tax Preparer Knows You're Lying
    Taxes

    Six Ways Your Tax Preparer Knows You're Lying

    An experienced tax preparer can usually sense when a customer is providing fraudulent information to them. Find out what sets off a tax preparer's lie detector.
  28. The Demise Of The Refund Anticipation Loan
    Taxes

    Why The IRS Blocked Refund Anticipation Loans

    Refund Anticipation Loans provided tax preparers with a substantial stream of income for several decades. But high fees and widespread fraud convinced several banks to exit this industry, and the IRS finally ...
  29. The Future Of The Tax Preparation Industry
    Taxes

    The Gloomy Future Of The Tax Preparation Industry

    It's often said all that is certain are death and taxes. By extension, undertakers and tax preparers should enjoy similar levels of ironclad job security. But recent changes to the marketplace have caused ...
  30. Could The Fair Tax Movement Ever Replace The IRS?
    Taxes

    Could The Fair Tax Movement Ever Replace The IRS?

    Although many taxpayers would love to see the IRS abolished, only a handful of thinkers have come up with any sort of viable replacement plan. The Fair Tax is one such idea that has continued to slowly ...
  31. Six Ways Your Tax Preparer Knows You're Lying
    Taxes

    Six Ways Your Tax Preparer Knows You're Lying

    An experienced tax preparer can usually sense when a customer is providing fraudulent information to them. Find out what sets off a tax preparer's lie detector.
  32. How Powerful Is The IRS?
    Taxes

    How Powerful Is The IRS?

    The IRS has considerable power to enforce tax collection and reporting. But does it have too much power?
  33. An iron butterfly strategy is not as complicated as you might think.
    Options & Futures

    What is an Iron Butterfly Option Strategy?

    This relatively simple strategy is designed to provide a profit for investors who believe that there will be minimal price movement in the underlying security until expiration.
  34. Need To Enroll In Obamacare? File Your Taxes
    Taxes

    Need To Enroll In Obamacare? File Your Taxes

    Taxpayers who need to obtain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act can now do so easily and conveniently when they file their taxes through an eligible preparer.
  35. Like other ETFs, leveraged ETFs are individual securities that trade on an exchange and can be bought and sold in intraday trading.
    Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Introduction to Leveraged ETFs

    Leveraged exchange-traded funds have appeared that are designed to move either conversely or inversely to their underlying benchmark, which may be either a financial index or a specific segment or sub-segment ...
  36. Money Habits Of The Millennials
    Budgeting

    Money Habits Of The Millennials

    Millennials are facing the bleakest financial future of any generation in decades, and are not likely to enjoy the same standard of living as their parents did. Their spending and investing habits are ...
  37. Tax Filing Considerations For Same-Sex Couples
    Taxes

    Tax Issues For Same-Sex Spouses

    The tax rules for same-sex spouses are largely the same as for traditional filers, but there are a few special considerations that apply.
  38. RSUs represent an unsecured promise by the employer to grant a set number of shares of stock to the employee upon the completion of the vesting schedule.
    Options & Futures

    How Restricted Stock And RSUs Are Taxed

    This form of executive compensation limits how these stocks can be sold. Find out more here.
  39. The Frozen Pension Dilemma
    Retirement

    America's Frozen Pension Dilemma

    Unfortunately, there are several factors that have eroded the presence of pension plans in America, and workers need to be prepared to replace that expected income for their retirement years.
  40. Several major tax benefits are available for oil and gas investors that are found nowhere else in the tax code.
    Investing Basics

    Oil: A Big Investment With Big Tax Breaks

    Oil and gas investments can provide unmatched deduction potential for accredited investors.
  41. Major Tax Credits Expiring In 2013
    Taxes

    Major Tax Credits Expiring In 2013

    Here are the major changes and tips that you need to know before filing your taxes for 2013.
  42. Janet Yellen will be the first Democrat to chair the Fed in nearly 30 years.
    Investing News

    Janet Yellen: Background And Philosophy

    Janet Yellen's nomination as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board will mark the first time that a woman has served as head of the board. Her previous experience and credentials won support for her in ...
  43. The MCSI is a market mover and investors who understand how to read the report can make wise investment choices.
    Active Trading Fundamentals

    How To Read The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index

    The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index has provided a key leading indicator for investors and economists for decades. This respected index is published monthly from the results of random telephone surveys. ...
  44. Retirement

    Introduction To Retirement Money Market Accounts

    Money market funds are used in retirement plans and accounts because they are liquid, stable and pay competitive rates of interest.
  45. Investing Basics

    The Difference Between Emerging And Frontier Markets

    Emerging and frontier markets offer investors global diversification in return for higher risk. These sectors have performed well over the past few years, but do your homework before you venture into them.
  46. Active Trading Fundamentals

    Which Order To Use? Stop-Loss Or Stop-Limit Orders

    Stop-loss and stop-limit orders can provide different types of protection for investors seeking to lock in profits or limit losses. Investors need to know how each type of order works to know when to use ...
  47. Options & Futures

    Should You Offer Alternative Investments?

    Find out what problems arise for financial representatives when they start to diversify their client offerings.
  48. Bonds & Fixed Income

    Introduction To STRIPS

    STRIPS provide an alternative form of bond for fixed-income investors who need definite cash flows at specific times. Read the article to find out how.
  49. Economics

    Understanding Interest Rates: Nominal, Real And Effective

    Interest rates can be broken down into several subcategories that incorporate various factors such as inflation. Smart investors know to look beyond the nominal or coupon rate of a bond or loan to see ...
  50. Entrepreneurship

    Top 4 Financial Jobs You Can Do From Home

    You don't have to go to an office to make a great salary in the financial sector. Here are the top four highest paying financial jobs you can do from home.
  51. Investing Basics

    Income, Value and Growth Stocks

    Investors who buy stocks generally seek one of three criteria: undervalued holdings, growth potential or steady income. The characteristics of stocks in each of these categories differs accordingly.
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