Armstrong Financial Strategies
Morris Armstrong founded Armstrong Financial Strategies in 2001 as fee-only firm. The firm does not accept commissions or referral fees and the only source of its income is from the client. Morris has taught at Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY and has written extensively on the subject of investments, taxes and planning for Multex Investors, which Reuters purchased in 2003.
Morris has also been active in the field of divorce planning, and in 2008, the Connecticut Law Tribune recognized his efforts. The lawyers in the state voted him as one of the top three planning firms in the state.
Morris has written for and been quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Planning magazine, Wealth Manager Magazine and Yahoo Finance. His investment philosophy has been shaped by both John Bogle and Eugene Fama, and is his portfolios, which are a blend of passive and active vehicles, reflect this.
While he enjoys divorce planning, it can be draining and he prefers not to work with those couples who believe that “War of the Roses” was a manual for divorce. He enjoys his role as an Enrolled Agent helping people resolve their issues with the IRS, whether it is a notice or something more involved such as an audit or offer in compromise.
BBA, Banking, Pace University
Assets Under Management:
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You should always keep in mind that on the federal level, a certain amount of your income is exempt. This is the sum of your personal exemption and your standard deduction. A couple over 65 years old will have the first $23,200 dollars of taxable income exempt. The 10 percent bracket would allow you to add about $18,450 to that number. A Roth distribution does not have any impact on that number, nor does any return of capital from an annuity or other investment.
In the 10% and 15% brackets, qualified dividends, and capital gains are not subject to tax but are included in the AGI calculation. I would suggest that each year you plan ahead and determine what level of taxation is comfortable for you and keep within that limit. Keep in mind that if you are married, when you or your spouse pass away, the following year, the tax brackets will shrink dramatically and the surviving spouse may be forced into a higher bracket.
It seems to me that you do like to plan ahead and good luck!
Relax - if the money is at a US brokerage firm they will issue you a check and not have anything to worry about. They can also ACH the money into your bank account.
The fact that you may get a deposit of $100,000 is no big deal and the deposit is not subject to reporting. As weird as it may sound, if the transfer was reportable, and you took steps to break down the deposits into amounts less than 10K, you have committed a felony under the structuring provisions which are engaging in behavior to prevent or obstruct the reporting of the transaction.
You are at the beginning of a journey and the answer depends on how much effort and time you are willing to put into the effort. First off, do you know if you have enough to retire on, how much you can afford to spend each year, and how long your assets will last? If you know the answers and they work for you, then I would think somewhere down the line, you have done some planning, or have lived well within your means and saved sufficient funds.
If someone is new to investing, I often recommend that they read books by John Bogle, the man who turned Vanguard around, and books that deal with goal setting, discuss active versus passive management, and books that are non-technical. As much as I hate to say it, I might also read some of the books by Ric Edelman. Investing does not have to be fancy, some people feel that it should be like watching the grass grow, but at the same time, many people equate investing with stock trading and expect to see 20 percent growth per month.
While the big wirehouse firms such as Merill, Morgan Stanley, and UBS may offer you some value, I have not found that to be the case. I do think that the websites of Vanguard, Fidelity, and Blackrock offer the novice investor a lot of food for thought. I would spend time looking there first,
If you are not sure if you have sufficient assets to last a lifetime, and that you have your ducks in a row, I would suggest that you spend time with a Registered Investment Advisory firm that offers financial planning. By law, an RIA must act as a fiduciary, in your best interest all of the time. Last I read, no private designation had that requirement.
If all you want to do is speculate using a few grand on stocks, after you have researched them, then I would use a discount firm with low commissions. Scottrade and Etrade are two that come to mind.
I hope that you have not placed all of the money into your IRA because if you did, then you lost the ability to escape the 10 percent penalty on funds distributed, but not rolled over. If you have not yet disbursed the funds, and really want to use the money to pay off debt, then I would return the check to Fidelity and ask for a separate check to cover the debt and then a direct transfer to your IRA for the balance. Keep in mind, that you will have to pay both state and federal income tax on the funds that use to pay off the debt. If you are in a combined state and federal bracket of 22%, then each $1,000 of debt is costing you $1,282.
Your ex-wife is likely going to have a1099-R issued for the loan amount and that will be treated as ordinary income to her.
I think that you are doing a good job but remember that you are trading and not investing. Rules for traders are different than those of investors and until you suffer a large drawdown, you may think that trading is easy. Good traders are right maybe 50 percent or so of the time, the key is how they handle the winning and losing positions.
Have you considered establishing two pools of capital, one for investing and one for trading?