Steven Merkel

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  1. Does it make sense to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth ...
    Retirement

    Does it make sense to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth ...

    If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $100,000 or less and you are not married filing separately, you may initiate a taxable conversion of a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. You can do a direct ...
  2. Solutions For Concentrated Positions
    Investing Basics

    Solutions For Concentrated Positions

    Investopedia explains various tactics for divesting your overexposure to any one stock.
  3. Should I collect early Social Security?
    Retirement

    Should I collect early Social Security?

    The earliest age that you can start receiving social security benefits is age 62. Full retirement was age 65 for many years; however, the administration realized that people were living longer and that ...
  4. Is it wise to put an IRA account into a fixed or variable ...
    Retirement

    Is it wise to put an IRA account into a fixed or variable ...

    The answer to this depends on an individual's investment goals, requirements and risk tolerance. During the 1990s, the majority of seasoned financial planners would tell you that it's not a wise move to ...
  5. What does a
    Investing

    What does a "5 by 5" power in a trust document mean?

    It is not uncommon that wealthy individuals are concerned with leaving large sums of money to specific beneficiaries for the fear of those individuals acting irresponsibly with access to such a massive ...
  6. Fighting The High Costs Of Healthcare
    Home & Auto

    Fighting The High Costs Of Healthcare

    If your employer is cutting medical benefits, a health savings account may be right for you.
  7. A New Approach To Long-Term Care Insurance
    Home & Auto

    A New Approach To Long-Term Care Insurance

    This practical product can protect you from the rising cost of care and provide for your beneficiaries at the same time.
  8. Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die
    Retirement

    Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die

    Find out what you need to prepare to avoid serious estate planning mistakes.
  9. Find The Right Financial Advisor
    Budgeting

    Find The Right Financial Advisor

    Learn how to weed out those who are just out to make a quick buck.
  10. Lessons On Corporate Dividend Payout And Retention Ratio
    Fundamental Analysis

    Lessons On Corporate Dividend Payout And Retention Ratio

    Why are dividend payout and retention ratios important to consider when investing in company stock? What companies have high ratios?What constitutes a high dividend payout and retention ratio? Is a high ...
  11. How do I list the beneficiaries of my life insurance policies ...
    Home & Auto

    How do I list the beneficiaries of my life insurance policies ...

    Because most states protect life insurance policies from creditors, most buyer questions come from the confusion created with ownership and beneficiary designations because of tax treatment. This is a ...
  12. Relationships And Retirement Planning
    Retirement

    Relationships And Retirement Planning

    Older couples have many things to consider when it comes to financial planning, including wills and estate planning.
  13. Budgeting As A Single Parent
    Budgeting

    Budgeting As A Single Parent

    Here are some tips to help single parents raise their kids on a more comfortable budget.
  14. Pro Athletes And Their Bad Money Habits
    Personal Finance

    Pro Athletes And Their Bad Money Habits

    These athletes earned a lot, but they spent too much.
  15. How To Convert A Non-Deductible IRA Into A Roth IRA
    Savings

    How To Convert A Non-Deductible IRA Into A Roth IRA

    Here's a step-by-step guide for transferring one retirement plan into another.
  16. Are High-Yield Bonds Too Risky?
    Bonds & Fixed Income

    Are High-Yield Bonds Too Risky?

    Despite their reputation, the debt securities known as "junk bonds" may actually reduce risk in your portfolio.
  17. Deducting Your Donations
    Taxes

    Deducting Your Donations

    Generosity may be its own reward, but some charitable giving also provides personal tax benefits.
  18. Understanding Your Mortgage
    Personal Finance

    Understanding Your Mortgage

    We walk through the steps needed to secure the best loan to finance the purchase of your home.
  19. Commodities: The Portfolio Hedge
    Active Trading

    Commodities: The Portfolio Hedge

    These diverse asset classes can provide downside protection and upside potential. Find out how to use them.
  20. Surviving The IRS Audit
    Taxes

    Surviving The IRS Audit

    Keeping thorough records and knowing the penalties make this experience easier than you'd expect.
  21. Using Tax Lots: A Way To Minimize Taxes
    Taxes

    Using Tax Lots: A Way To Minimize Taxes

    The method of identifying cost basis can help you to get the most out of reduced tax rates.
  22. How Much To Save To Become A Millionaire
    Options & Futures

    How Much To Save To Become A Millionaire

    With a little discipline and the help of some powerful savings vehicles, anyone can hit this mark.
  23. Don't Put Off Your Year-End Tax Plan
    Taxes

    Don't Put Off Your Year-End Tax Plan

    From sales tax deductions to credit reports, check out what items should be on your financial checklist.
  24. 6 Ways To Improve Your Portfolio Returns Today
    Fundamental Analysis

    6 Ways To Improve Your Portfolio Returns Today

    These historically tested methods will improve your investment results.
  25. How can I start an IRA for my child?
    Retirement

    How can I start an IRA for my child?

    The Roth IRA is hands-down the most attractive retirement plan available for people with at least 15 or more years until retirement, since it provides tax-free withdrawals if you wait to withdraw funds ...
  26. How are life insurance proceeds taxed?
    Home & Auto

    How are life insurance proceeds taxed?

    Generally, life insurance death benefits that are paid out to a beneficiary in lump sum are not included as income to the recipient of the life insurance payout. This tax-free exclusion also covers death ...
  27. Am I responsible for fraudulent charges on my credit card?
    Credit & Loans

    Am I responsible for fraudulent charges on my credit card?

    In the event that your credit card is stolen in the United States, federal law limits the liability of card holders to $50 regardless of the amount charged on the card by the unauthorized user. In today's ...
  28. What changes might I need to make to my insurance policy?
    Insurance

    What changes might I need to make to my insurance policy?

    The number one thing to remember about insurance is that, just like everything else, it changes over time. The top-of-the-line policy that you bought five years ago might not even be available or even ...
  29. In-Depth Guide To Estate Planning
    Retirement

    In-Depth Guide To Estate Planning

    The process of planning your estate takes careful consideration. Skip any of these important steps, and your estate could be mishandled.
  30. Top Tax Tips For Retirees
    Retirement

    Top Tax Tips For Retirees

    Filing your taxes during retirement can be just as time consuming as when you were employed. We have some tips to help you out.
  31. Choosing The Best Disability Insurance
    Options & Futures

    Choosing The Best Disability Insurance

    Social Security benefits can be hard to collect. Find out why you need disability insurance to protect your income, and learn how to choose the right policy for you.
  32. Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die
    Taxes

    Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die

    Find out what you need to prepare to avoid serious estate planning mistakes.
  33. Getting the Whole Story on Variable Annuities
    Options & Futures

    Getting the Whole Story on Variable Annuities

    Variable annuities are another way to save money tax-deferred - but don't jump in blindly!
  34. How To Avoid Taxation On Life Insurance Proceeds
    Options & Futures

    How To Avoid Taxation On Life Insurance Proceeds

    Decrease the value of your taxable estate and prevent the tax man from getting you one last time.
  35. Taking The Surprise Out Of Long-Term Care
    Home & Auto

    Taking The Surprise Out Of Long-Term Care

    Don't be caught unprepared - find out what to look for in LTC insurance policies.
  36. 10 Last-Minute Retirement Tips
    Retirement

    10 Last-Minute Retirement Tips

    The months leading up to your retirement can be the most crucial in terms of planning. We provide a to-do list.
  37. Encouraging Good Habits With An Incentive Trust
    Insurance

    Encouraging Good Habits With An Incentive Trust

    Money can be a powerful motivator - why not use it to teach your heirs positive lessons?
  38. Establishing A Revocable Living Trust
    Retirement

    Establishing A Revocable Living Trust

    This arrangement allows you to have more control over your estate - both before and after your death.
  39. Selecting The Payout On Your Annuity
    Options & Futures

    Selecting The Payout On Your Annuity

    Make sure you understand your options for withdrawing your funds from this complex instrument.
  40. What protects an investor’s interest in the case of terrorist ...
    Investing

    What protects an investor’s interest in the case of terrorist ...

    Currently, most stock ownership is done electronically thru the combined effort of the brokerage firms and the transfer agents representing the company that issues stock. When paper certificates are issued, ...
  41. Getting Started On Your Estate Plan
    Options & Futures

    Getting Started On Your Estate Plan

    With some preparation, you can save your heirs from paying a hefty estate tax. Here are some tips.
  42. What are the exceptions to the premature withdrawal penalty ...
    Retirement

    What are the exceptions to the premature withdrawal penalty ...

    Generally, if you are under age 59.5 and you withdraw funds from your traditional IRA, you must pay an additional 10% tax penalty on this distribution of assets. There are several exceptions to the rule, ...
  43. What advantages do exchange-traded funds have over mutual ...
    Investing

    What advantages do exchange-traded funds have over mutual ...

    Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are growing ever more popular, as they were created to combine the best characteristics of both stocks and mutual funds into a combined investment vehicle. Four of the common ...
  44. Can I refuse a gift by providing a
    Investing

    Can I refuse a gift by providing a "Qualified Disclaimer," ...

    While refusing a gift may seem a little absurd to many, there are several good reasons that an individual might want to do so. Suppose you inherit a $500,000 IRA and a $500,000 CD from your deceased uncle. ...
  45. What is a tax-free 1035 Exchange?
    Investing

    What is a tax-free 1035 Exchange?

    A Section 1035 Exchange refers to the replacement of an annuity or life insurance policy for a new one without incurring any tax consequence for the exchange. The IRS allows holders of these types of contracts ...
  46. When is it a good idea to use an irrevocable life insurance ...
    Home & Auto

    When is it a good idea to use an irrevocable life insurance ...

    The irrevocable life insurance trust or "ILIT" is a trust that cannot be rescinded, amended or modified in any way after its creation. Once the grantor contributes property or life insurance death benefits ...
  47. What are the advantages and disadvantages of mutual funds? ...
    Investing

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of mutual funds? ...

    Mutual funds are currently the most popular investment vehicle and provide several advantages to investors, including the following: Advanced Portfolio ManagementYou pay a management fee as part of your ...
  48. What is the difference between an options contract and a ...
    Options & Futures

    What is the difference between an options contract and a ...

    Both futures and options trading are considered advanced forms of market trading, and require additional training or the use of a specialist in the field to fully understand their characteristics. When ...
  49. What is a
    Options & Futures

    What is a "wash sale"?

    The Wash-Sale rule was established to disallow a loss deduction of a security sold, if within 30 days of the date of the sale an investor buys substantially identical stock or securities, or purchases ...
  50. What are the requirements to be able to contribute to an ...
    Options & Futures

    What are the requirements to be able to contribute to an ...

    Health Savings Accounts (HSA) can be used by individuals covered by a high-deductible health plan to save for health care costs on a tax-free basis, in an account that is similar to that of an individual ...
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