Weekly Blog

Rubber Meet Road

It begins on Thursday. The rubber hits the road for my family’s 2024 camping trip after eighteen months of gathering ideas, evaluating options, and creating travel plans. Since this likely will be my last multi-week camping trip with my daughter, I asked her in January of 2023 what parts of our country she would like…

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Weekly Blog

Next Steps

Today, my youngest child will graduate from eighth grade. On Sunday, my middlest child will graduate from high school. In February, my oldest child moved out into his own apartment with a roommate. My children’s life milestones are impactful to me because I have the long-term perspective of their helpless infant selves locked in my…

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Weekly Blog

Margin for Error

This morning I was reminiscing about the good old days of January of 2022 when the rumors first started. The “R” word seeped into traders’ minds as the Federal Reserve prepared to start battling inflation with interest rate hikes. The thought was that recession was imminent within the next six to twelve months. Those recessionary…

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Weekly Blog

Who Will Win?

This year is shaping up to be a very close contest. Most of the people I talk with are already wishing it was over, and we still have months and months to go. It is entirely possible this one could even stretch into next year. On one side of the contest, you have the long-term…

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Weekly Blog

May Day

Happy May Day! May 1 is a forgotten holiday that has been celebrated for centuries. According to history.com, the Celts believed May 1 to be the single most important day of the year. The unique American tradition of May Basket Day quietly faded from popularity in the mid-1900s. May 1 was considered Labor Day in…

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Weekly Blog

Waived Again

Yes, they have done it again. Last week the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2024-35 which waives Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for specific retirement account beneficiaries in 2024. If you are or will be at least age 73 by the end of 2024, you still must take your RMD this year. If you own…

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Weekly Blog

Inflated Expectations

Last week’s Consumer Price Index report for March made it very clear that money still drives markets. Much of the financial market enthusiasm that erupted just prior to Halloween hinges on the theory that the Federal Reserve will bring the cost of money down in 2024. Initially, traders thought it would be a mere six…

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Weekly Blog

Path of Totality

I must admit I was not all-in on Monday’s solar eclipse. I did not purchase eclipse eyewear. I did not create my own eclipse observation tool. In fact, I was in a client meeting during the eclipse instead of outside. One of the more ear-catching eclipse phrases that stuck in my brain during the eclipse…

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Weekly Blog

Confluence

The Baltimore bridge tragedy is a solemn reminder of how a confluence of unexpected events have unintended and almost unimaginable consequences. Humans have been using large ships for decades. Yes, their size has grown significantly over the last 20 years, but all of the operating principles for safely steering a vessel have been in place…

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Weekly Blog

Zeroes

Zeroes frequently mark either the beginning or the end. Every interstate freeway starts at mile marker 0. Every golf scorecard begins with 0. The day you are born is your 0th birthday (at least in American culture). Every college basketball game ends with 0:00 on the clock. Most Major League Baseball teams’ first official game…

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Weekly Blog

How Strong is Your Foundation?

Hello. This is Rusty Peterson, partner and wealth consultant at IAG Wealth Partners. Scott has been kind enough to let me sit in for him as he takes a much-needed break in Arizona to be with family. I have been writing a monthly podcast that focuses on building your financial house either on sand or…

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Weekly Blog

Fifteen Years

This past week marks 15 years since the stock market bottomed during the Global Financial Crisis. Time has certainly helped to erase some, if not most, of the trauma. Thinking back on it, I find it incredibly difficult to put into words the oppressive sense of pessimism that pressured perfectly rational people to make incredibly…

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Weekly Blog

Alarm

Writing roughly 45 blogs a year for the last 8.5 years sometimes leaves me a little empty on the idea front, and yesterday I was struggling mightily for a topic or theme that would be at least semi-interesting to write about this morning. I wrestled with this most of the day and by the time…

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Weekly Blog

Tax Culprits

Every tax professional in the United States is now in the thick of tax season. They have in front of them a 45-day gauntlet of tireless tax analysis to complete their clients’ returns by April 15 (unless there is an imminent extension). They are under pressure. Their eyes may be blurry. Their caffeine dosage may…

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Weekly Blog

The Winter That Wasn’t

With the 10-day forecast now extending all the way through the end of February, I believe we can now officially declare that this was a winter that wasn’t. For the snow fans, the season started off well with a white Halloween. Hopes were high as the Farmer’s Almanac declared in December: “Our extended weather forecast,…

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Weekly Blog

Ashentine’s Wednes-Day

Today is a rarity as Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day occur on the same exact day. This only happens three times during this entire century – 2018, 2024, and 2029. At first blush, today is a confluence of opposites. The modern Valentine’s Day celebrates romance. Historians cannot definitively determine which St. Valentine is the inspiration…

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Weekly Blog

Patience

One of the key ingredients to successful long-term investing is patience – one of the world’s most treasured natural resources which is being depleted daily. Patience unlocks the value of time. Long-term investing does not have deadlines within the next eight years. If your investment deadline is shorter than that, a short-term investing strategy may…

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Weekly Blog

Lasts

Firsts usually get all of the attention. First human to set foot on the moon. First day at a new job. Baby takes her first steps. Kindergartener loses his first tooth. First time the stock market reached this level. First day of high school or college. There is something really exciting about doing something for…

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Weekly Blog

Roundtrip

We made it! Whenever you depart on a trip, you expect to make it back home at some point. You commute to work, you expect to come home later that day. You travel to grandma’s house for a holiday, you expect to come home in a week or so. You leave for a mid-winter cruise,…

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Weekly Blog

Mid-Winter Surprise

I was sitting in my office on Monday, January 15, engaged in a videoconference conversation with a client when I got distracted. I go to great lengths to avoid distractions during client video conference conversations. I set my desk phone to Do Not Disturb. I close my office door. I put my cell phone upside…

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Weekly Blog

Exceeding Expectations

Several years ago I purchased stock in a small Wisconsin-based company in the hopes that it would make it big. It did pretty good for a while, but recently has had some struggles. Last August, September, and October were pretty rough. I am sure you can remember those three consecutive months last year when we…

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Weekly Blog

new year

new year There is always plenty of hoopla about the transition from one calendar year to the next. Out with the old in the with new. Make a fresh start. Resolve to do something better this go around. Welcome to 2024. I must admit, I am not much of a New Year’s person. I am…

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Weekly Blog

Are You Ready?

Are you ready? This is one of the most common questions asked during the end-of-year holiday season. Your answer may vary depending on the context. Financially, have you completed everything you intended to do this year? You likely have one last paycheck to bump up your 401(k) contribution for 2023. You have a week or…

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Weekly Blog

Prognostications

‘Tis the season for prognostications about what the new year will bring. The smartest people in the financial world are evaluating the events of 2023 and extrapolating their views on how 2024 will unfold. While I am not qualified to enter the ranks of the smartest, I thought it would be at least mildly entertaining…

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Weekly Blog

Giftee

The holiday shopping season is now in full swing. Ready or not, Christmas is a mere 19 days away. There are many different kinds of gifters and giftees in the world. Some gifters like to work from a precise list so they know that their gift will be appreciated while others enjoy conjuring up appropriate…

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Delightful December

On Friday the calendar will turn over to the final month of 2023. Despite a very uneven showing so far this season, it is statistically pretty much guaranteed that the Green Bay Packers will win all five of their games in December and likely make the playoffs. Let the delightful celebrations begin! From whence does…

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Weekly Blog

Praisegiving

You likely have never heard of Praisegiving because I just made it up. However, I have it on reasonably imaginary authority that President Lincoln considered this alternative option to the Thanksgiving we currently celebrate. In fact, President Lincoln’s official proclamation declared the last Thursday of November a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” There are always…

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Taxes illustration (via Flicker | CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Voluntary Taxpayer

Voluntary and taxpayer are two words that usually are not found residing next to each other. Corporations and individuals spend millions of dollars every year to hire tax professionals whose primary job is to legally minimize the amount of income taxes they are required to pay. They would rather pay people to find ways to…

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Weekly Blog

Interest Rate Psychology

Last week there was a fascinating public conversation between bond traders and their chief psychologist, Jerome Powell. Mr. Powell’s primary job is to be the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. In this position he is responsible for maintaining full employment and a growing economy while keeping the flames of inflation near his self-designated 2% annual…

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Two to Go

Following a little snow on the pumpkin yesterday, today we find ourselves a full 10 months through 2023. This means there are only a mere two months remaining in what has been an unpredictable year. This year started with concerns about a recession which still has not arrived, optimism about bond prices benefiting from falling…

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Trick

After a rough August and September, traders and investors alike looked forward to finally turning the calendar to October. Their expectations were that October would be a treat relative to the previous two months. Historically, this is the case. But so far, this October has been a great example of how past performance does not…

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Day 450

Today, Wednesday, October 18th, is day number 450. If you were stranded on an island or locked in a dungeon, imagine tallying the days as they go by. One singular vertical line every day the sun comes up. One slash every fifth day. Knowing in advance that there was a chance you would encounter the…

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Bonds

While they are usually the relatively boring part of your portfolio, bonds have been financial market troublemakers over the last few weeks. There are likely several contributing factors to bonds’ recent bad boy attitude. First, the U.S. government has issued over $500,000,000,000 in Treasuries over the last three weeks, boosting the total federal debt from…

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Weekly Blog

This is a Test

Later this afternoon (Wednesday, 10/4) at around 1:20 pm (CDT) your cell phone will likely receive an emergency test alert. In August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it will be conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) today. If you are within range of…

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New Years Eve

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve this year? While some people like to spend the night out on the town, others prefer a small gathering with friends or family or maybe even a family movie night at home. Some people enjoy celebrating the bright spots of the previous year while others optimistically look…

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Plot Your Dots

For those of you fearful that today’s blog lesson will involve a graphing calculator, you will be thankful to learn that it does not. It involves something far more gray than the black and white of mathematics. This week is full of central bank meetings and announcements. The Bank of England gets together on Thursday,…

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On Average

On Sunday, Jordan Love completed his first game as the Packers’ new starting quarterback. It went pretty well. Well enough that a fan could start to imagine how his career could unfold. Thankfully, we have the past 30 years of statistical evidence on Packers quarterbacks to help us gauge how Jordan Love’s career could develop.…

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September

Ah, September! Kids and college students are back in school. The first month of fall with cooler temperatures and the first sign of color in trees. The worst month of the year. From a short-term stock trader’s point of view, September is historically the worst month of the year. And it is not even close.…

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Weekly Blog

Tunnel 3

Last week was what has become known to my family and friends as my annual Camp Bike Think week. I go somewhere by myself with our family’s pop up camper for a week. It is not really a vacation as much as it is a change in environment. I still have my e-mail open every…

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Dog Days of Summer

Officially, the Dog Days of Summer run from July 3 – August 11, so clearly they are over, or are they. Just what are the Dog Days of Summer and where did that term come from? According to Wikipedia (along with other reliable sources), the dog days or dog days of summer are the hot,…

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Winds

This past weekend many of our financial advisors and several of our team members traveled to San Diego for a national conference hosted by LPL Financial. One of the keynote speakers during the event was retired Col. Nicole Malachowski, the first female U.S. Air Force Thunderbird pilot. She shared her story about overcoming very long…

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Take a Hike

Monday evening was one of the most pleasant Wisconsin summer evenings in a long time. Tolerable temperatures, minimal humidity, and no bugs. A great night for a hike with my wife. To be completely and thoroughly honest, you may actually consider our activity to be a walk since we stuck to the roads by our…

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Running Out of Optimists

It is very rare to find Wall Street analysts as dour as they are today. As typical following a year of stock market struggles like 2022, 2023 has been a pretty positive year for many companies’ stock prices. You would think the rest of the year would be filled with hope, optimism, and confidence based…

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Top Heavy

Sometimes being top heavy can have very negative consequences. If your vehicle is top heavy, the laws of physics are unkind when making sudden directional changes. Being top heavy increases the odds of tipping over. Sometimes being top heavy prevents an organization from reaching peak performance. If a company has more people working at the…

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Weekly Blog

The End is Near

It has been almost five weeks since my last blog as I was on a 4,317-mile camping trip with my 13-year-old daughter and 15-year-old niece. I have thankfully returned safely and sanely. The anticipation and nervous energy of preparing for a 3.5-week camping trip culminates in the day of departure. We then spend a day…

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Weekly Blog

It’s Summer!

The official start of summer is June 21, but I think most of us would agree [particularly those that live in Wisconsin] that the weather has certainly produced summer-like conditions for the past couple of weeks, and many of us are simply loving it! When I see or hear the words, “it’s summer” I get…

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Applying the Brake

It appears that the President and Congress have arrived at an agreement on raising our country’s debt limit and small spending reductions for the next two years. Pop the champagne! Celebrate this glorious achievement in our country’s history! At least this fleeting victory will temporarily distract us from the long-term fiscal nightmare that lies ahead.…

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E Supports P

The commonly accepted narrative about the rest of 2023 is that there is very little to be optimistic about. First, we have to get over a debt limit debacle that should resolve itself to some degree within the next week or so. Then, we have to make sure the banking challenges we have seen stay…

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Pneumonia Expectations

Things can change quickly. Yesterday afternoon was beautiful, sunny, and warm. It almost felt like summer. It was a great day for mowing the lawn, maybe planting some flowers, and catching some delightful rays of sunshine. Appropriate outside attire included shorts and a T-shirt. Just a single hour later it was cold, windy, and felt…

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Weekly Blog

The End and the Beginning

Today we likely reach the end which, naturally, is a new beginning. Unless we see rising inflation or falling unemployment over the next few months, today is likely the Federal Reserve’s last increase in its overnight bank lending rate during this economic cycle. It has been a very rapid ascent. After holding their interest rate…

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Weekly Blog

Sell In May?

Despite the weather pretending it is March, this week Friday is actually the end of April for the financial markets. We will have completed one-third of 2023 at that point and will be heading into May. May’s reputation precedes itself because The Stock Trader’s Almanac popularized the phrase “Sell in May.” The almanac found that,…

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Weekly Blog

To Your Credit

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, Chief Investment Officer If you were fortunate enough to go to American Family Field on Monday for the Brewers’ home opening romp over the New York Mets, you likely witnessed some unacceptable behavior at some point during the game. I guess that is part of many people’s opening…

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Unintended Consequences

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   The last few weeks have been filled with headlines about unintended consequences.   Reacting to a global pandemic and government-mandated economic shutdowns, Congress and the Federal Reserve unleashed a torrent of money into the economy. The Federal Reserve took interest rates to 0%…

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Three Years

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Americans’ lives changed three years ago on March 15, 2020. On that date numerous states began systematically shutting down anything that served as a gathering place for people to interact. Sincere social distancing was born.   Here we are three years later, and…

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Less is More

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   How many companies strive to make their customers happy by offering them less while increasing the price?   This season Major League Baseball is implementing new rules that are expressly intended to increase fan happiness by offering them less baseball. These new rules…

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Leftovers

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Leftovers have been much more palatable since the widespread adoption of the microwave oven. There is nothing like a bunch of overstimulated water molecules to convert cold leftovers into a warm lunch or dinner the next day.   The SECURE 2.0 Act which…

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Calendar Quirks

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   The calendar likely ranks as one of the items we are most likely to take for granted. It provides an effortless structure and predictable rhythm for our lives. But that has not always been the case.   On Monday we celebrate President’s Day…

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Trial Balloon

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   On Saturday, January 28, the military identified a large balloon north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. It peacefully floated southeast across the North Pacific Ocean into Canada, and by last Tuesday reached the Idaho/Montana border.   The balloon then successfully and likely inadvertently captured…

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Flip the Script

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Scene 1: Flush with abundant money provided by Congress and the Federal Reserve, consumers and traders celebrate an astounding recovery from the economic impact of a global pandemic and expectantly welcome an exciting new year by pushing stock prices to record highs.  …

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The Drama Begins

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Here we are again. The drama. The finger pointing. The tension. The drama. Oh, the drama. Yes, the federal government must have maxed out its line of credit — again.   As much as the politicians would prefer to ignore it, the federal…

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Dis Inflation

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Toward the end of last year, expert market prognosticators continued their tradition of revealing their forecasts for the financial markets for the following year.   While they are, in my opinion, about as useful as the always entertaining Farmer’s Almanac, many of these…

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Changes

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   A new year always bring some changes to your life.   Some of 2023’s changes will likely have little impact on your day-to-day life. For example, it is now legal (but still risky) to jaywalk in California, Mississippi has a catchy new state…

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New Year

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Early Sunday morning a brand-new year was born, full of high hopes and resolutions.   Every new year is a chance to put the past in the past, to look to the future with optimism, and to reflect on the changes that could…

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Secure 2.0 Update

Way back in April we highlighted proposed legislation that could make some changes to the rules of retirement – the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022. After handily passing the U.S. House of Representatives in April and passing out of U.S. Senate committees, the bill has patiently waited to be voted on in the U.S. Senate…

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Anticipation

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Christmas is coming! This is probably not news to you.   If you have young children, the excitement has been building since the calendar turned to December (and maybe even sooner). This is positive anticipation.   A blizzard is coming! This is probably…

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Loss of Control

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Last week Friday’s snow created an excellent educational opportunity.   My middle child was granted his driver’s license by the State of Wisconsin in September. His mandated 50 hours of parent driving time started a mere 6 months prior to that and, as…

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Dollar Double Dichotomy

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   One of the more interesting stories of 2022 has been the dichotomies of the U.S. dollar. When you think about them from just the wrong perspectives it can give you a headache. Naturally, that is where my attention is drawn.   Everybody in…

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On Paper

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer “It’s one of the best defenses on paper that we’ve had,” said Aaron Rodgers during training camp in August. “On the field it looks even better,” extrapolated safety Darnell Savage. And then the reality of the regular season set in. Currently the Packers defense…

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Foundation Focus

This quarter the IAG Charitable Foundation made a grant to support Flight to the North Pole. This Milwaukee-based organization focuses on providing a memorable event for children fighting cancer (and their entire family) during the Christmas season. You can learn more about their mission by visiting their website. If you would like to submit a…

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Inflation Optimism

Last week’s October inflation report created a surge of optimism about the future. Traders enthusiastically embraced signs of slowing inflation and went on a buying frenzy that created significant one-day gains last Thursday.   Bond traders were happy that the Federal Reserve may not have to raise their overnight interest rate as much as they…

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Election Aftermath

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   I am writing this blog on Monday afternoon, envisioning what reality will be on Wednesday morning. That is always a dicey proposition.   First, on Wednesday morning I envision that I will be very happy that the onslaught of gloomy, accusatory, negative advertisements…

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Weekly Blog

How Financial Planning Can Help Prepare for LTC Costs

With the cost of long-term care (LTC) increasing year over year, considering how the costs of long-term LTC will impact your financial plan is essential. According to insurance company Genworth, the price of LTC services increased substantially in 2021 for specific settings due to the supply of professional labor and the growing aging society. Other…

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Trick or Treat

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   The next week will be filled with costumes and candy as kids cash in on strangers’ sugar donations.   How do these traditions get started? Who was the first parent to dress their children in costumes, walk them up to a stranger’s door,…

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Fearage

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Hiking through deserts poses a real threat to your physical and mental well-being if you do not plan ahead. High temperatures, low humidity, and a noticeable lack of bubblers create just the environment to whither with your body and mind.   For those…

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Sirens

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Sirens are often associated with unfortunate events in life.   Sirens respond to car crashes. Sirens respond to medical emergencies. Sirens respond to house fires.   But how do you respond to sirens?   If you are driving, hopefully you safely pull over…

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Weekly Blog

Short-Term Goals vs. Retirement Savings

American workers find it difficult to save for retirement because their distant financial needs tend to take a backseat to more immediate economic concerns, even if they have their day-to-day finances under control or are financially literate, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. In the issue titled: “Are…

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Weekly Blog

Protecting Your Financial Information Online

More consumers are conducting financial transactions online and may become vulnerable to tracking, hacking, identity theft, phishing scams, and other cyberspace risks. While nothing can guarantee complete safety on the Internet, understanding how to protect your privacy can help mitigate your exposure to risk.   Here are some ways to help you safeguard your information:…

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Weekly Blog

7 Reasons to Invest in Women Owned Businesses and How to Get Started

In 2021, women-led companies only received 2% of all venture capital funding, a figure considered the lowest percentage in more than five years.1  Data shows this figure does not necessarily reflect the potential success of female-owned businesses, but possibly more of a reluctance for male investors or male-led funds to green-light these projects. The reasons…

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Weekly Blog

The Financial Planning Process: Why and How

Planning personal finances used to be the worry of the wealthy and their worry—usually preservation of wealth—was attended to by teams of trust officers and lawyers. Many of today’s middle class families have different concerns: funding retirement; educating children; protecting assets; and coping with unexpected changes in health, employment, and marital situations. But, whether your…

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Is it Time?

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Recently we have heard from a number of clients asking “Is it time?”   Some are concerned about recent market events and are asking if it is time to switch to a more conservative investment approach.   Others are cautiously optimistic about the…

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Jitters

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   Miriam-Webster lists the origin of the word jitters as “unknown.” While the origin of jitters may be unknown, it is the unknown that will likely be creating jitters for short-term traders in the next few months.   Today bond traders believe the Federal…

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Weekly Blog

Life Insurance and Estate Planning

Life insurance has come a long way since the days when it was known as burial insurance and used mainly to pay for funeral expenses. Today, life insurance is a crucial part of many estate plans. You can use it to leave much-needed income to your survivors, provide for your children’s education, pay off your…

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Weekly Blog

Rising Rates Join Long List of Housing Dilemmas

Homebuyers braving the hot U.S. housing market have run headlong into a striking transition. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage jumped from around 3.2% at the beginning of 2022 to 5.3% in mid-May, the highest level since 2009. This rise was sparked by the Federal Reserve’s commitment to raise the federal funds…

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Weekly Blog

Financial Planning for Female Entrepreneurs

Women own nearly 20% of the businesses that employ people in the United States, and countless more women run their businesses without employees. There are over one million women-owned firms. They employ over 10 million people and generate nearly $1.8 trillion in revenue annually.1 If you are a female entrepreneur, you help create these stunning…

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Weekly Blog

Financial Considerations for Working Parents

Nine of every 10 U.S. families with children have at least one working parent.1 Though working parents make up one of the largest demographic groups in the country, they face many challenges—from the cost of childcare to inconvenient scheduling issues. There are a few steps working parents may wish to take to smooth the path ahead,…

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LVII

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   On Thursday evening the National Football League’s (NFL) 2022 season begins with the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills.   To make an NFL team’s roster requires significant personal commitment by the players. They must commit to keeping their…

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Weekly Blog

Staying on Track with Your Retirement Investments

Investing for your retirement isn’t about getting rich quick. More often, it’s about having a game plan that you can live with over a long time. You wouldn’t expect to be able to play the piano without learning the basics and practicing. Investing for your retirement over the long term also takes a little knowledge…

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Brake Check

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   I had an interesting experience driving my daughter home from camp on Sunday.   We were driving through a small town in central Wisconsin when a vehicle made a right turn at an intersection a block or so in front of us. Everything…

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Weekly Blog

Women and Asset Protection – How Insurance Can Help

Women are successful professionals, business owners, and knowledgeable investors. At some point in their lives, women may have to manage their own finances due to divorce, widowhood, or remaining single. Every day, women face a variety of risks to their life, their health, and their property. Although you can’t eliminate many of these risks, you…

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Weekly Blog

What Can A Financial Professional Do for Non-Profits?

As of 2017, about two-thirds of all nonprofit organizations in the U.S. had annual budgets of less than $1 million.[1] For these non-profit organizations where every penny has a purpose, having the services of a financial professional can be incredibly valuable. Below, learn more about the different ways a financial professional can help non-profits succeed. Fiduciary…

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Weekly Blog

How Grandparents Can Help Grandchildren with College Costs

As the cost of a college education continues to climb, many grandparents are stepping in to help. This trend is expected to accelerate as baby boomers, many of whom went to college, become grandparents and start gifting what’s predicted to be trillions of dollars over the coming decades. Helping to pay for a grandchild’s college…

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You Are Here

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   It is generally good to know where you are.   When hiking in the woods, you bring along a compass and a trail map. When driving in unfamiliar territory, you use Google maps or your car’s GPS to keep your bearings.   The…

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Market Math

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer   If you made it past the title of this blog, congratulations! Most people likely saw “math” in the title and casually walked away without making eye contact.   Whether you like it or not, math runs your world. You can either choose to…

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Critical Decision

This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer Within the next few days you will face a critical decision. Your June investment statements will arrive via e-mail or in the mail. There are three potential approaches you could take because you honestly already know what your statements will tell you.   Option…

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Weekly Blog

How Much Disability Income Insurance Should You Have?

The amount of individual disability income insurance you should buy depends on three things: how much income you’ll need if you become disabled, how much money you can afford to spend on premiums, and how much insurance you’ll be able to purchase under the insurance company’s guidelines. Determine how much income you’ll need if you…

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Weekly Blog

Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Your Finances

Many parents may find it uncomfortable, or even believe it is unnecessary, to inform their children about personal finance matters. Yet, communicating openly with your family members can help to reassure them about your financial and health care wishes. This may also ease the decision-making process for your family in many important areas. As time…

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Weekly Blog

Insurance Nerd Day: 6 Interesting Insurance Facts

Insurance may provide a safety net for when things go wrong and might allow you to navigate life a little more confidently. Insurance Nerd Day is July 18. In celebration, here are six interesting facts about insurance you may not know. Insurance Originates from a Marriage Engagement The origin of the word “insurance” comes from…

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Weekly Blog

An Introduction to Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation

For members of the “Sandwich Generation”—those currently in their 40s and 50s who are caring for children and their parents who are over 65-years old—estate planning may seem like a low priority. After all, when you’re juggling multiple caregiving responsibilities daily, sitting down to draft a will is easy to put off. But estate planning…

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Weekly Blog

Four Tips for Gaining Financial Independence

The golden rule of financial planning: if you can plan it, you can pursue it Over the past July 4th, we celebrated our country’s history of declaring independence and guaranteeing basic human freedoms. But true freedom includes financial independence, as well. Self-sufficiency isn’t guaranteed, but every one of us has the opportunity to achieve it.…

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Weekly Blog

Basic Facts of Life Insurance

  Thinking of a future without ourselves in it, is not the most pleasant of thoughts…however, it is necessary to do so for the financial future of your family. Life insurance may provide you with the opportunity to bequeath money to your survivors, while at the same time, provide the necessary liquidity to help pay…

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Weekly Blog

Will Rising Mortgage Rates Slow Down Housing?

The housing market has been frustrating for buyers and a boon for sellers, but there are signs that those frustrations might be easing – depending on where you live. Would-be buyers have struggled with historically low inventories, crazy bidding wars and now have to add rising mortgage rates to their worry list. Sellers on the…

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Weekly Blog

Tax-Deferred Annuities – Are They Right for You?

Tax-deferred annuities can be a valuable tool, particularly for retirement savings. However, they are not appropriate for everyone. Five questions to consider Think about each of the following questions. If you can answer yes to all of them, an annuity may be a good choice for you. Are you making the maximum allowable pretax contribution…

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Weekly Blog

Variable Annuities

Some basics A variable annuity is a contract between you (the purchaser) and an insurance company (the issuer). In return for your premium payments, the issuer agrees to make periodic payments to you (if you elect this option), beginning either immediately or at some future date. Annuity premium payments may be made with after-tax dollars…

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Weekly Blog

May IAG Grapevine

Jennifer Von Ruden assumed responsibilities as IAG’s Chief Compliance Officer on April 1 and also joined as a partner in our firm. Anne Sapienza and her fiancé, Tim Johnson, are planning a small wedding on September 24, 2022. Tom Peterson’s son, Gabe, graduated from Marquette High School and plans to attend the University of North…

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Weekly Blog

Older Americans: Growing Targets of Financial Fraud

America’s older generations grew up in a different world where it was customary to be courteous and trusting. Unfortunately, these exemplary standards of conduct could get some individuals into trouble. Con artists bank on the willingness of older Americans to trust in a variety of too-good-to-be-true investment “deals.” Therefore, many people already experiencing financial difficulties…

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Survival

It has been a rough six weeks. The financial markets have persistently declined, interest rates have risen, and you may be getting weary of bad news.   These are the times that test an investors’ patience. These are the times where the siren songs of foolish decisions get louder. These are the times for gentle…

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Rhymes

Today the Federal Reserve is likely to announce its first .50% increase in its overnight bank lending interest rate in over 20 years. On May 16, 2000, the Federal Reserve increased their target interest rate from 6% to 6.5%. As you may recall, the stock market peaked in March 2000 as a massive run up…

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Weekly Blog

Charting Your Future: Small Business Lessons from Good to Great

The best-selling book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap. . .and Others Don’t, offers surprising insights into the success of “great” companies that consistently and significantly beat average market returns on a sustained basis. The author, Jim Collins, and his research team set out to discover what makes a good company great.…

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Weekly Blog

If Social Security Falls Short

Are you worried about the current state of the Social Security system and how its future may affect your retirement income? It’s important to take a long, hard look at your current savings strategy to ensure you’ll be able to compensate for this, or any other, retirement income shortfall. Here are some important savings strategies…

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The R Words

It all starts with a whisper, an ever-so-slight loss of confidence, or a shadow of doubt that briefly crosses the mind. The economy looks strong, unemployment is low, consumers are generally in strong shape, and the present is positive. But what about the future? What about inflation? What about soaring food and energy costs? What…

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Weekly Blog

The Principles of Financial Literacy

Financial literacy refers to the skills and knowledge that allow an individual to make informed and effective decisions through their understanding of finances. Financial literacy starts by building a basic understanding of ‘money matters’ to create a sense of economic well-being, self-trust, and financial confidence. The principles of financial literacy include: Saving- Saving is preparing…

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Tax Reduction Trading™

It is no secret that the first three months of 2022 were a bit tumultuous in the financial markets. Stock traders responded to the uncertainty surrounding the invasion of Ukraine by selling. Bond traders responded to the uncertainty surrounding the Federal Reserve’s battle with inflation by selling. About the only strategies that had a positive…

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SECURE 2.0

Last week, by a vote of 414-5, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill that would make significant changes to retirement planning. The Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 (H.R. 2954) is a sequel to the SECURE Act of 2019 which also passed with strong bipartisan support. Its nickname is SECURE Act…

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Inversion

A mere three months ago, bond traders were a fairly relaxed group of people. The 10-year Treasury bond yielded a modest 1.52% per year and had been trading around that mark for nine straight months. While inflation was bumping up, the Federal Reserve assured the markets it was transitory due to pandemic-related inefficiencies and there…

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Underdogs

I root for underdogs (unless they are playing Wisconsin teams, of course). There is something about an underestimated team exceeding the experts’ view about their abilities and defeating a supposedly superior opponent that gives me great satisfaction. It takes tenacity. It takes confidence. It takes effort. And it usually takes a little bit of luck.…

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Fear Fear

There is a lot to pay attention to in the world today. From armed conflict to viruses to inflation to supply chains to politics to the financial markets. It is almost getting difficult to decide which of these deserves the most attention. I can tell you that even long-term investors are starting to feel a…

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Genie

This past weekend my daughter was involved in her school’s production of Alladin and His Magic Lamp. She played Alladin. It was quite a whirlwind. Casting was on Monday, practices ran Monday through Friday (except for the ice day on Tuesday) with shows on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Thanks to Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre,…

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Average

From as young as I can remember, winter has been one of my favorite seasons to be outside — from sledding, to fort-building, to simply walking in the peaceful serenity of a world being blanketed by snow. I will even admit to you that I may enjoy shoveling occasionally. Counterbalancing this appreciation for the white…

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Rumors of War

What exactly is Vladimir Putin up to? No one really knows except maybe the highest echelons of his inner circle. There are no secrets about Russian troop movements, ship relocations, and joint military exercises in Belarus. This is certainly not a stealth operation. There are several plausible reasons for Putin to start rumors of war.

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Olympic Ingredients

I admit I get suckered in to watching the Olympics when they are on in my house. I think it is the combination of my admiration for those far more gifted than I, the interesting personal stories that are told, or the drama of the competition. It takes a lot of personal ingredients to earn…

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Pi

You may not have thought about pi since your high school geometry class, but it is a magic number. It starts with 3.1415926535 and goes on from there forever. Pi was also the main character in the book (and movie) “Life of Pi,” a fictional tale of a young boy who survived 227 days on…

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Apprehension

These two words can strike terror in a parent’s heart: student driver. My middle child started drivers education class this quarter. As his book knowledge of driving grows, so does his input regarding his parents’ driving habits. I am choosing to use such opportunities as positive educational experiences instead of reacting to the slight jabs…

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Magawa

While most of you likely have a fairly negative impression of rats, they have many redeeming qualities that could benefit you if you can overcome centuries of negative press coverage sensationalizing their shortcomings. Just last week a heroic rat was memorialized globally for his efforts to save lives. According to this article, Magawa was an…

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Spike

There have been quite a few spikes in the news over the last month. From the Badgers’ women volleyball players capturing the national championship to the spike in COVID cases to the Omicron variant’s more effective spikes. However, no spike has caught our attention more in the new year than the spike in interest rates.…

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Expectations

The optimism of high expectations can either be highly motivational or grudgingly disappointing. Did 2021 meet your expectations? Going into 2021 most people were fairly optimistic that 2021 would bring an end to the COVID pandemic and a return to normal life. Those high expectations were seeded by the lows of 2020, and 2021 simply…

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