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Market Watch: Quarterly Commentary from Mosaic

Mosaic / Apr 20, 2017 / Investments / Market Watch

Every quarter, our investment management committee produces Market Watch, Mosaics take on the markets and the current economic affairs that influence them. The first edition of the year has just been published, and were excited to share our commentary with you. 

Summary
  • US markets enjoyed strong performance across the board for the twelve-month period ending March 31, 2017.
  • The S&P 500 Index posted a 17% return for the twelve months ending March 31.
    US small stocks did even better.
  • Overseas, the developed world benefitted from improving exchange rates as well as strengthening economies, which helped push stock returns over 10%.
  • With commodity prices recovering and the developed world needing more goods, outlooks brightened and emerging market stock returns averaged over 17%.
  • Bonds were largely positive, although there was little to no price appreciation, so returns were relatively low.
  • Global real estate stayed positive, but generated only mid-single digit returns.
  • Alternatives helped to boost overall returns, led in particular by oil & gas pipeline/infrastructure companies, timber, emerging market bonds and business development companies. 
 
Click here for the full issue.

 

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Retirement Income FAQ

Mosaic / Apr 18, 2017 / Retirement Planning

Your sunset years shouldn’t be spent worrying about money. 

When crafting a retirement portfolio, you need to make sure it is positioned to generate enough growth to prevent running out of money during your later years.

You may want to maintain an investment mix with the goal of earning returns that exceed the rate of inflation. Dividing your portfolio among stocks, bonds, and cash investments may provide adequate exposure to some growth potential while trying to manage possible market setbacks.

Here’s a short list of frequently-asked retirement income questions to get you thinking about your options when it comes to your individual retirement planning process. 

 

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Save the date: May Women's Circles

Liz Revenko / Apr 13, 2017 / Estate Planning / Mosaic News / Women's Events

Now that your primary estate planning documents are hopefully in place, it’s time to figure out the messages, values, and vision that will be your legacy. And how to communicate your wishes.

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Tax Considerations for Self-employed Consultants

Mary Ballin / Apr 11, 2017 / Tax Planning / Retirement Planning

Nearly 15 million Americans were self-employed in January 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Being a self-employed consultant means you can work for more than one company, direct your own work, balance your own books, manage your business and be responsible for all of your own business expensessuch as technology, transportation, office materials, and the likepretty much, the buck stops with you. You are the employee of the month. Every month.

Under these conditions, the IRS would consider you a self-employed independent contractor.

But before taking your well-honed list of contacts and embarking on a new career as a consultant, you’ll want to understand the tax implications involved. The differences between your tax obligations as an employee and as a self-employed consultant can be significant.

A little knowledge and preparation now can save you a big headache down the road. Let's look into what you need to know.

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Should High Earners Make Non-deductible IRA Contributions?

Stephen Kepler / Apr 6, 2017 / Tax Planning / Retirement Planning

When planning for retirement, you need to find ways to maximize the amount of money you put aside for your future. Key to that is finding ways to minimize your tax burden now and down the road.

If you’re a high earner who’s not self-employed, beyond contributing as much as the government allows to your employer-sponsored 401(k), what are your options?

You can contribute to a traditional IRA. Given your high income and access to the 401(k), the IRA contributions you make are likely to be non-deductible, perhaps making you question this advice.

But non-deductible IRA contributions can be a means to save tax efficient funds for retirement, and, when part of a ‘backdoor Roth’ conversion strategy, can be a very valuable estate planning tool to pass assets to your heirs.

If you choose to make a non-deductible IRA contribution for 2016, you need to make the contribution before you file your taxes; the deadline to do so is just over the horizon on April 18.  

The decision to make non-deductible IRA contributions a part of your arsenal of retirement planning options depends on several factors.

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In the News: ETFs, SF real estate, mutual funds and more

Mosaic / Apr 4, 2017 / Mosaic News

Mosaic experts wrote and were featured in financial news in March, weighing in on diverse topics such as:

  • the evolving attitude towards ETFs,
  • buying a house in San Francisco,
  • reaping the rewards of tax loss harvesting, and
  • financing expensive transgender surgeries.

Read on:

 

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Taxes: Ways to Prepare for the Marriage Penalty

Steve Branton / Mar 30, 2017 / Tax Planning

Henry and Sean had been living together for what seemed like forever to their friends—20 years and counting. They were partners long before Proposition 8, and they watched its saga unfold together. Now that civil marriage is an established right for same-sex couples, Henry and Sean have been discussing whether to take the big leap together.

Sean proposed, and Henry said yes. 

Although news of the engagement made their parents ecstatic (“Finally, some grandchildren!” was Sean’s mom’s reaction), some of their friends in the know were quick to point out a hiccup to making this change: the much misunderstood “marriage penalty.”

Under current law, a dual-income couple will likely pay more in taxes compared with two single people—especially if both are medium- to high-income earners. This is what is referred to as the marriage penalty. But it’s not always the case.

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Mosaic Culture Via Wealth Coaching and Beyond

Norm Boone / Mar 28, 2017 / Mosaic News

Culture in a company ultimately determines your experience and the quality of your interactions with that company. But it's not just outward-facing: how the employees interact with and support one another, how they learn and develop as professionals, and how they make decisions that put the client’s interest first are all reflected in the culture of the company.

At Mosaic, coaching first impacted our company through service, and has since fanned out to touch all corners of our work, becoming a touchstone of our culture.

Here's three ways  Mosaic culture has benefitted from this influence.

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10 Investment Mistakes to Avoid

Geoff Zimmerman / Mar 23, 2017 / Investments

There are many ways to lose money. Who needs a pyramid scheme or a crooked money manager when you can lose money in the financial markets all by yourself? 

Sometimes, the best way to refine your process is to learn how *not* to do something. Here's a look at 10 proven ways to manage your investment portfolio into the ground in no time.

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5 Tips for the Trump Era & Your Investment Portfolio

Norm Boone / Mar 21, 2017 / Mosaic News

President Donald Trump was elected to shake things up—to do things differently. For better or worse, he’s been doing just that.

His unpredictability makes it hard to anticipate the direction the new administration will take on issues ranging from tax policy, financial regulation, international relations, open and free media, to the judiciary and other topics.

This creates uncertainty that surrounds the direction of the investment environment.

U.S. stock markets displayed their enthusiasm for the lower taxes, reduced regulation and increased infrastructure spending they expect from President Trump.

If enacted, these policies could be good for business and could put more money in the pockets of the nation’s citizens. 

And yes, there could be costs to each, for the budget, for the environment and for citizenship rights.

The Labor Department recently announced that companies are continuing to hire at strong rates. If the trend continues, labor markets are likely to tighten and wages (and inflation) will probably rise. 

Interest rates are set to be pushed up by the Fed and the global demand for the dollar.  The increased strength of the dollar will eventually make it harder for U.S. firms to sell their products and services to buyers in other countries. 

Higher tariffs the Trump administration may choose to impose will inevitably be matched by other countries, inhibiting world trade, an important engine for global economic growth.

 

How should investors be viewing this and what, if anything, should they be doing differently?

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we move forward.

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Effective Financial Strategies: The Q1 2017 Newsletter

Mosaic / Mar 16, 2017 / Mosaic News / Retirement Planning / Investments / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management / Financial Planning
What's Inside:
  • Tips for the Trump era - what investors should prepare for;
  • Learn how coaching strengthens and enhances client service, from financial planning to investment management;
  • Find out how to craft a personal financial policy;
  • Read about how shared values kept one couple together for five decades;
  • Get re-acquainted with advisor and CCO Geoff Zimmerman and his why
  • Read about upcoming Women's Circles, and other events;
  • Stay up to date on Mosaic advisors: their speeches given, conferences attended, and books read, with takeaways from each.

To read the new issue of Effective Financial Strategies, please click here


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6 Timeless Interior Design Tips

Mosaic / Mar 14, 2017 / Life Balance

We’re firm believers in cost-conscious lifestyle choices, and updating your house’s interior design is no different. Some of your design choices may add to your home’s value; all of them will add to your experience living there, whether you're in a starter house, vacation house, or your dream house.

In this post, San Francisco realtor Emily Beaven presents 6 tips for a framework that can help you beat design overload and get started.

From Pinterest to design blogs and yearly “hot lists,” it can be exhausting and expensive to keep your home “on trend.” Stick with these 6 timeless interior design tips to create the framework for a look that you can update easily over the years. 

 

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6 Tips for Buying a Starter Home in the Bay Area

Steve Branton / Mar 7, 2017 / Life Balance / Financial Planning

The San Francisco Bay Area has many advantages for potential homeowners—including beautiful scenery, a vibrant arts scene and proximity to some of the country’s best-paying jobs—but our housing prices aren’t among them.

A recent Business Insider survey found that 12 of the 25 most expensive housing markets in the United States are in the Bay Area, including seven of the top 10.

San Francisco is the major city with the most expensive housing market; a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home costs an average of $1.67 million.

Perhaps surprisingly, I think it’s possible to find a home in the Bay Area, even if you’re not a hot tech multi-millionaire (yet). In my experience advising clients, I’ve witnessed some effective, basic tactics that can help with buying a starter home in the Bay Area.

Here are six to keep in mind.

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In the News: combining finances, divorce and the family house

Mosaic / Mar 2, 2017 / Mosaic News

Mosaic experts wrote and were featured in financial news in February, weighing in on diverse topics such as:

  • how new couples can evaluate and begin combining finances,
  • what options divorcing couples have when it comes to the family house, and
  • business tips for women entrepreneurs.

Read on:

 

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The Job-Changer's Financial Checklist

Mosaic / Feb 23, 2017 / Employee and Government Benefits / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management / Insurance

There may be a lot happening when you change jobs. As you look forward to starting a new job, it's important to consider how you will manage your finances while making the transition from one employer to the next. This job changer's financial checklist can help you keep in touch with important details. It's divided into two parts: the first is for those to use before beginning a new job, and the second is for those who don't have a new position lined up just yet.


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