Most Recent: Investment Newsletter

2nd Quarter 2014 Newsletter

Economic and Market Overview

  • In the U.S. economy an economic bounce back in the 2nd quarter followed a weak first quarter..... 

2013 Tax Changes

  • The tax on capital gains and dividends remains at 20% for those earning above $400,000/$450,000, 15% for those below the $400,000/450,000 thresholds and at 0% for those in the 15% or lower tax brackets.

  • A 3.8% Medicare surtax continues for those with an AGI over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married couples. The surtax is on the lesser of (a) "net investment income" or (b) the amount over the $200,000/$250,000 threshold.

  • "Net investment income" includes taxable interest, dividends, capital gains, rental income and annuity distributions but excludes interest on municipal bonds, business income and IRA distributions.

  • This surtax is in addition to the .9% Medicare payroll tax on wages exceeding $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married couples.

  • The federal estate tax remains at 40% and the exemption for estate, lifetime and GST transfers remains at $5 million adjusted for inflation ($5,340,000 for 2014). Unused exemption remains portable between spouses although not indexed for inflation. The annual gift tax exclusion remains at $14,000.

  • Itemized deductions and exemptions will be reduced for joint filers earning over $305,050 and single filers earning over $254,200.

  • The employee portion of the Social Security tax will remain at 6.2%.  The maximum taxable earnings amount for Social Security increases to $117,000.

  • Roth IRA contribution limits remain at $5,500 per person for people under age 50. People age 50 and older may contribute an additional $1,000. AGI phase-out increases to $114,000 for singles and increases to $181,000 for couples filing jointly.

  • For 2014, the 401(k) and 403(b) maximum employee contribution amount remains at $17,500 with a $5,500 make-up provision for individuals 50 and older.

  • The defined-contribution plan limit increases to $52,000.

Susan Is Quoted in These Articles

Generosity, Without a Checkbook

By Veronica Dagher (Wall Street Journal) Dec. 7, 2013 9:00 p.m. ET

Charitable-giving season is in full force. It's the time when many charities rely on the generosity of donors to make their budgets for the year and begin to fund their programs for the year ahead.

But you don't have to be a millionaire—or even open your checkbook—to be charitable.

With a little creativity, a generous spirit and smart planning you can give back this holiday season.


Money honey strife

Gregory Bresiger (New York Post) January 2013

Call it the pocketbook war.

"My husband spends a fortune on cars," she says.  

"My wife never stops shopping.  Look at these credit card bills", he laments.

Financial advisors often hear these complaints.


Taking a Bath on Your Pool

Brett Arends (The Wall Street Journal) August 11, 2010

Susan Elser, a certified financial planner in Indianapolis ("and a former pool owner," she adds), suggests the ongoing costs can easily run to $3,000 a year, or about 10% of the initial cost. If you hire a pool service company, she says, make that 15%.


Risks of Gold Investment By Elser Financial Planners Indianapolis

Constantine Njeru ( May 15, 2010

In a Business week interview Susan C. Elser, of Elser Financial Planning Indianapolis gave a good detailed analysis on the risk of gold investment,. Unlike other commodities, gold has few industrial uses. Unlike businesses owned through...


Grats are great grab, but clock is ticking

Lisa Shidler (Investment News) August 18, 2008

"Even if the GRAT doesn't appreciate more than the interest rate, investors don't lose anything....It just means that no gifts go to children or family members."


Commodities: The Tipping Point?

Ben Steverman ( Business Week) June 30, 2008

It's impossible to predict how much longer the commodities boom will continue. But for investors, this superheated investment class may be getting too hot to handle.


Tax Diversification for Retirement Accounts

Ellen Hoffman (Business Week ) January 31, 2008

Successful retirement planning, of course, requires developing a vision of the retirement lifestyle you want, coming up with a multifaceted plan, and then taking specific steps to implement it.


Setting -- and Achieving -- Financial Goals

Ben Steverman (BusinessWeek) September 4, 2007

-- Get started. Sometimes people get discouraged by the immensity of their goals. So instead they do nothing. "At least start something," Rylance says. Even if it will only get you "halfway to the goal, start it."


Flying Solo in the Golden Years

Ellen Hoffman (Business Week) August 20, 2007

And therein lies the attraction of solo retirement. Financial planner Elser points out that there's "a lot more flexibility. Finances are always at the top of the list that a couple argues about. As a single, you have full control over the spending as well as the flexibility" to choose the lifestyle that suits you, with no compromises required.


Think cash is good only as a safe haven

Timothy Middleton (Courtesy of June 26, 2006

My colleague Jim Jubak is expecting the market to revive after September. I don't see any relief before November's elections. But elections aside, steadily rising interest rates are taking the stuffing out of equities.


Parents' Day in the Sun

Marc Hogan (BusinessWeek) May 10, 2006

Many planners also suggest keeping a cash account for emergency expenses. It should contain at least three months of living expenses, they say. 


When Your Paycheck Stops

Jane Bryant Quinn (Newsweek) April 18, 2006

These policies aren't for people with modest incomes (you can't afford them) or the superrich. They're for people in between, says planner Dean Harmon of The Woodlands, Texas, who recommends them to clients with assets ranging from $500,000 to $4 million.


Other Noteworthy Articles

Basic Truths

Roy Diliberto (Financial Advisor Magazine) February 2010

Businesses, like people, have personalities. And like people, they are shaped by values and truths. Living these truths is what integrity is all about.


5 Ways to Avoid a Ponzi Scheme

Katy Marquardt (Article in U.S. News & World Report) December 16, 2008

Oh, and one bonus tip: If someone promises an investment return that is unnaturally high or steady, the warning alarm should start sounding.


Money Guide: How to Pick a Planner

Jane Bryant Quinn (Newsweek ) Feb. 13, 2006

This peeves real advisers, who think some investors have been misled. Brokers have no legal obligation to look out for your interests, nor do they have to provide you with their histories or disclose commissions. The FPA is suing the SEC over this broker loophole.


Why Can't Americans Save a Dime

Marilyn Gardner (staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor) March 3, 2006

Bilker offers his philosophy: "Living modestly and being happy with what you have -- therein lies the success of saving.


The worst retirement investment you can make

Liz Pulliam Weston (MSN Money) January 4, 2008

Understand the surrender charges, early withdrawal penalties and annual fees you’ll be charged. Shop around and compare different annuities’ features and costs. Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and TIAA-CREF all offer low-cost annuities.


So you want to be a millionaire

Liz Pulliam Weston (MSN Money) April 14, 2006

Finally, and maybe most importantly: My husband and I don't live just for tomorrow. Our long-term goals are important to us, but we also want to enjoy life today.


Affluent Women & Money

Matt Oechsli ( September 19, 2012

It’s time for financial advisors to take the affluent female seriously. Not only are more affluent women now the official family breadwinner, they are also becoming the determining factor in whether or not a healthy relationship exists with their family’s financial advisor.


Resist the Folly of Market Timing

James K. Glassman (Kiplinger) November 2011

In a time of market turbulence, with stocks losing altitude, it’s only natural to feel compelled to buy and sell according to your own forecasts of whether a stock -- or the market as a whole -- will rise or fall in the short term. My advice: Resist! 


How to Draw the MAX (Safely)

Walter Updegrave (Money) October 2011

-- "What's the most I can pull from savings each year without running short of money later in life?" It's the single most frequent question I get from retirees and near retirees. 


Investor Bulletin: Top Tips for Selecting a Financial Professional

Office of Investor Education and Advocacy ( September 2012

Choosing a financial professional-whether a stockbroker, a financial planner, or an investment adviser-is an important decision. Consider the following tips as you make your choice. 


VISKANTA: Big trends emerge from the lost decade for stocks

Tadas Viskanta / Special to IBJ ( October 5, 2012

The past 12 years have been a difficult time for equity investors. The so-called lost decade has seen major stock market averages like the Standard & Poor’s 500 struggle to regain the highs seen in 2000 and briefly in 2007. To add insult to injury, investors during this period were hit with all manner of volatility, including a global financial crisis, flash crashes and bungled high-profile initial public offerings.


Video / Television

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May 14, 2012 This video was produced by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) to help educate the public on the role NAPFA has played in changing the way in which financial services are delivered to the public...without sales! Wealth Manager:  "What does it mean to be a FIVE STAR Wealth Manager?" 
2010 Crescendo Business Services, published in Indianapolis Monthly

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