Newsroom

Baby Boomers Are Changing Retirement in America

Posted by Cathy Miller, MBA, CFP®, CRPS®, CDFA™ on Wednesday 04/11/2018 - 1:00 p.m.

Are you a "Baby Boomer" – a member of the demographic group born post-World War II between 1946 and 1964? This group of Americans has had a profound impact on U.S. society at every stage of life. That impact has been in part due to the sheer size of this group, which peaked at nearly 79 million (including immigrants) in 1999, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is also due to Boomers challenging many aspects of traditional society and values. In particular, Baby Boomers brought about dramatic changes in the way we work in America, from the roles of women in the workplace to how both men and women viewed careers and work. Boomers are working longer and living longer, dramatically altering how people retire and how they live in retirement.

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Julie Andrews and Cathy Miller Featured in The Wall Street Journal "Women in Wealth" Section

Posted on Wednesday 04/11/2018 - 1:00 p.m.

Congratulations to Julie Andrews and Cathy Miller for being included in The Wall Street Journal's "Women in Wealth" special section in the March 26, 2018 issue. Julie and Cathy are among an elite group of female wealth advisors in the nation recognized with the Five Star Professional* award.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

As the feature indicates, only 31% of financial advisors in the U.S. are female and, yet, the demand for a female advisor is projected to rise in the coming years. We're proud of Cathy and Julie for continuing to be "stand outs" in their industry.

*Based on 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria, including a minimum of 5 years as an active credentialed financial professional, favorable regulatory and complaint history, accepts new clients, client retention rates, client assets administered, education, and professional designations. 2,210 Atlanta wealth managers were considered for the award; 526 (24 percent of candidates) were named 2016 Five Star Wealth Managers. (The criteria provided reflects the most recent year for which the advisor received the award. The criteria used, the number of wealth managers considered for the award, and the percentage of those who received the award, may vary from year to year.) These awards are not indicative of the wealth manager's future performance. Your experiences may vary. For more information, please visit. www.fivestarprofessional.com.


Cathy Miller Facilitates Society of International Business Fellows Event

Posted on Wednesday 04/11/2018 - 1:00 p.m.

Cathy Miller was an invited guest facilitator at a conference hosted by the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) at The Inn at Serenbe on March 18th. The session was designed to help attendees understand how to identify and plan for some of the typical financial challenges women face. They addressed some of the root causes of why women aren't always involved partners in their financial lives including a lack of time, interest or financial knowledge. The group also discussed the top financial priorities women should be concerned with at different stages of life. Cathy helped lead a discussion of challenges women commonly face in understanding their financial "reality," along with concrete steps all women can take to seize control of and alter that reality. The session wrapped up with a discussion about how important it is to include planning for the unexpected, and gave examples of steps women can take to increase the odds that their financial plans will weather the obstacles women often face, such as the unexpected end of the marriage due to divorce, the sudden illness or death of a spouse, or even the high cost of longevity typical for women.

The SIBF is an organization of top executives, entrepreneurs and professionals that fits all levels of success. SIBF opens businesses to innovative learning, new pathways, and strategies for navigating the shrinking globe to create new business ventures. Based in Atlanta, they have more than 1,200 members who collectively speak more than 60 languages and hail from 40 different countries.


The Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions After Tax Reform

Posted on Wednesday 04/11/2018 - 1:00 p.m.

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act substantially increased the standard deduction amounts for 2018 to 2025. It also eliminated or restricted many itemized deductions for those years. You can generally choose to take the standard deduction or to itemize deductions. As a result of the changes, far fewer taxpayers will be able to reduce their taxes by itemizing deductions.

Standard deduction

The standard deduction amounts are substantially increased in 2018 (and adjusted for inflation in future years).

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Four Points to Consider When Setting a Retirement Income Goal

Posted on Wednesday 04/11/2018 - 1:00 p.m.

Retirement SignpostNo matter what your age or stage of life, targeting a goal for monthly retirement income can seem like a daunting task. Following are four considerations to help you get started.

1. When do you plan to retire?
The first question to ponder is your anticipated retirement age. Many people base their target retirement date on when they're eligible for full Social Security benefits, and for today's workers, "full retirement age" ranges from 66 to 67. Other folks hope to retire early, while still others want to work as long as possible. As you think about your anticipated retirement date, keep the following points in mind.

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Fact vs. Fiction

Posted on Wednesday 04/11/2018 - 1:00 p.m.

Fiction: When you empty your computer's recycle bin, the data is gone for good.

Fact: When you empty your recycle bin, you aren't removing the data inside. You're only marking it for overwriting. But there's a problem: You can never be sure where the data that needs to be overwritten is located, so you never know which remnants are still around and which aren't. To be sure the data is gone for good, try full disk overwriting software.


New Tax Law May Create Hidden Tax Traps and Other Unintended Consequences: It's Time to Review Your Will and Estate Plan

Posted by Rick Henderson CPA, CFP® AIF® on Wednesday 03/21/2018 - 4:00 p.m.

When the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 was signed into law, the estate and gift tax exemption, which is the amount you can pass to your heirs estate tax free, was raised to $11.18 million per person ($22.36 million per couple), increasing annually with inflation. The good news is that because of this change, most people's estates will now be estate tax free. However, because of the way that many people's wills have been written over the years, especially people with tax planning wills, the new tax law can potentially cause significant unintended consequences in how your assets are distributed, as well as cause your heirs to incur additional capital gains taxes on assets that they inherit. If, by reading this article, you only remember one thing, please remember that with the implementation of the new changes in the estate and gift tax laws, it is very important for you to review your will and estate plan with your advisor team to make sure that the new rules have not disrupted the asset flow of your plan and that the plan is still how you want it to be. Also, relook at your will and your estate plan to make sure they are taking advantage of the latest tax rules and will not cause any unintended tax consequences. For those of you who are interested in a more detailed explanation and some examples, I've outlined them below.

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Julie Andrews Honored in Forbes' Best-in-State Wealth Advisors List

Posted on Wednesday 03/21/2018 - 4:00 p.m.

Julie AndrewsWe are thrilled to announce that Julie Andrews, MBA, CFP®, AIF®, has been named to Forbes' Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list for 2018. The list was published on Forbes.com, and a condensed listing is available in the current issue of the magazine.

Julie's unwavering professionalism has earned her local, regional and national recognition, including the Forbes' Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list, for her service and expertise. In 2017, she was also included on *Forbes' list of America's Top Women Wealth Advisors. With nearly 30 years of experience in the financial planning industry, Julie demonstrates her unparalleled commitment to her clients by developing sophisticated solutions that address the financial needs of highly successful physicians, professionals and individuals at or nearing retirement. Andrews co-founded Atlanta Financial Associates in 1992.

"I am honored to be recognized by Forbes as one of the best wealth advisors in Georgia," said Julie. "My colleagues and I continue to set a high bar to ‘Make Life's Journey Richer' for our clients and it's wonderful to have those efforts affirmed in this way."

The 2018 ranking of the Forbes' Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list was developed by SHOOK Research and is based on in-person and telephone due-diligence meetings to evaluate each advisor qualitatively and on a ranking algorithm that includes client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, firm nominations, and quantitative criteria (including assets under management and revenue generated for their firms). Overall, 21,000 advisors were considered, and 2,213 (10.5 percent of candidates) were recognized. This recognition and the due-diligence process conducted are not indicative of the advisor's future performance. Your experience may vary. Winners are organized and ranked by state. Some states may have more advisors than others. You are encouraged to conduct your own research to determine if the advisor is right for you. Portfolio performance is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. SHOOK does not receive a fee in exchange for rankings. The full methodology that Forbes developed in partnership with SHOOK Research is available here.


Cathy Miller Receives the Women's Choice Award for Financial Advisors & Firms

Posted on Wednesday 03/21/2018 - 4:00 p.m.

2013-2018 WOMEN'S CHOICE AWARD | FINANCIAL ADVISOROur congratulations also go to Cathy Miller, MBA, CFP®, CRPS®, CDFA™, on receiving the Women's Choice Award for Financial Advisors and Firms for the sixth year in a row. This year, Cathy is one of seven advisors recognized in Georgia.

The Women's Choice Award is the only recognition program for well-qualified advisors who are committed to the women's market and serving their female clients. Based on rigorous research, 17 objective criteria and additional points of reference that obtain feedback on the advisor's service and practice, this award affirms Cathy's commitment to extraordinary service and addressing the financial needs of women and their families.

"To be recognized for my financial planning work for women by the women of WomenCertified is truly an honor," Cathy says. "I am dedicated to providing the same high quality service to my clients that will earn this recognition for years to come."

Women Certified, originator of the Women's Choice Award, was created by Delia Passi, the leading advocate for female consumers and former group publisher of Working Woman and Working Mother magazines. Delia has created the Women's Choice Award for Financial Advisors in an effort to help women identify those advisors who are committed to providing quality service. The award allows this outstanding group of advisors to showcase their commitment to the women's market, while giving potential clients a starting point for entrusting their finances to an advisor.


Rick Henderson Provides Expert Insight to the Media

Posted on Wednesday 03/21/2018 - 4:00 p.m.

Our own Rick Henderson, CPA, CFP®, AIF®, has provided his expert advice in a handful of publications recently. In an interview with NBC News BETTER, Rick shared tips to avoid tax fraud this season. His number one suggestion of filing early was picked up by a writer for Inc. in an article on beating scammers:

"Filing early lowers the chance that someone can get in front of you, which is essentially how fraudsters work," Rick Henderson, principal at Atlanta Financial Associates, told NBC News. "Because what they do is file a fake tax return on the chance that they're doing so before you. The faster you file, the less chance someone can try to get ahead of you."

NBCNews.com came back to Rick for input on an article about how the new tax law may impact people's paychecks. He was quoted alongside Jean Chatsky, NBC News financial editor:

"So many people get into debt because they have no cash reserves and can't absorb the smallest emergency like their water heater going out," says Rick Henderson, principal at Atlanta Financial Associates. "If you have any debt, pay it and then build up an emergency fund."

The article went on to say that Rick also strongly recommends adding more to your 401(k) along with any other retirement plans, as he sees far too many taxpayers skimping in this area.

Great job, Rick!


Due Date Approaches for 2017 Federal Income Tax Returns

Posted on Wednesday 03/21/2018 - 4:00 p.m.

Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together — that includes getting your hands on a copy of your 2016 tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records. You'll need these records whether you're preparing your own return or paying someone else to prepare your tax return for you.

Don't procrastinate
The filing deadline for most individuals is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. That's because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., is celebrated on Monday, April 16. Unlike in some years, there's no extra time for residents of Massachusetts or Maine to file because Patriots' Day (a holiday in those two states) falls on April 16 — the same day that Emancipation Day is being celebrated.

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Eight for '18: Financial Steps You Should Take Now

Posted by Julianne F. Andrews, MBA, CFP®, AIF® on Wednesday 02/14/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

With the start of a new year, most of us begin making plans in all aspects of our lives for the year ahead - and beyond. One area we should all consider is financial well-being -not only our tax outlook, but also investment and retirement strategies, property and personal insurance coverage, and more. In this article, we provide a helpful list of actions you can take now that will cultivate a more fruitful 2018.

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Michael Nguyen Promoted to Financial Planning Associate

Posted on Wednesday 02/14/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

Michael NguyenWe are pleased to announce that Michael Nguyen has been promoted to Financial Planning Associate.

Michael joined the Atlanta Financial team in 2016 after graduating from Georgia State University with a B.B.A in Finance. In his time at Atlanta Financial, Michael has rapidly taken on additional duties including an increased role within the financial planning process. He has become a key part of Rick Henderson's team being counted on to start sitting on meetings with clients and working on advanced client deliverables. Michael has shown the aptitude and ability to continually take on new projects and tasks that have been assigned to him.

With his work ethic and dedication, we are anticipating many positive outcomes for Michael in the future within the financial services industry and look forward to watching him grow! We hope you will join us in congratulating him on a much deserved promotion.


Deducting 2017 Property Losses from Your Taxes

Posted on Wednesday 02/14/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, winter storms, and other events often cause widespread damage to homes and other types of property. If you've suffered property loss as the result of a natural or man-made disaster in 2017, you may be able to claim a casualty loss deduction on your federal income tax return.

What is a casualty loss?

A casualty is the destruction, damage, or loss of property caused by an unusual, sudden, or unexpected event. Casualty losses may result from natural disasters or from other events such as fires, accidents, thefts, or vandalism. You probably don't have a deductible casualty loss, however, if your property is damaged as the result of gradual deterioration (e.g., a long-term termite infestation).

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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: What You Need to Know

Posted on Monday 01/16/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

On December 22, 2017, the President signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the act or TCJA). The legislation makes significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), including individual, corporate, and gift and estate taxation.

Individual income tax changes
Although the act maintains seven tax brackets, these brackets will change.

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Julie Andrews is a Medical Economics 2017 Financial Adviser for Doctors

Posted on Monday 01/16/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

We are proud of Julie Andrews', MBA, CFP®, AIF®, continued recognition by Medical Economics as a Financial Adviser for Doctors*. At a time when physicians are reporting stagnant or lagging income on top of the uncertain implications of new tax legislation, it's more important than ever to have a solid financial plan in place. Julie continues to be committed to working with physicians to maximize their comfort with and control over their financial future.

Medical Economics, an award-winning magazine, is a trusted voice for physicians. Julie is the only adviser in Georgia to enjoy this partnership with the publication.

*Criteria for inclusion: Advisor should have a depth of knowledge about a broad range of financial issues with a focus on physician business or the medical field. Advisor should offer services to a broad geographic range and should require $1 million or less as a minimum. Advisors should be in good standing as evidenced by the national databases of the SEC and FINRA. Advisors selected for inclusion are not ranked against one another. Medical Economics Financial Advisors for Doctors is a paid listing and does not imply that the individual is suitable for physicians.


Harrison Fant Promoted to Wealth Manager

Posted on Monday 01/16/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

Harrison FantIt is with great pleasure that we announce the promotion of Harrison Fant from Associate Advisor to Wealth Manager! Harrison has grown into a leader within Atlanta Financial and his exceptional client service and attention to detail are integral to the growth of Julie Andrews' client base. Since joining AFA in 2014, Harrison has excelled in every task and project that he has been asked to perform. He has shown the ability to work extremely effectively with a wide range of clients and financial situations while balancing a duty-list that continues to increase.

We are happy to be able to recognize his efforts through his expanded role with Atlanta as a Wealth Manager. Harrison will continue to be involved with Julie's clients on a day-to-day basis but will now see his duties expanded to begin managing relationships as a lead advisor. Everyone here is very excited for Harrison and we look forward to watching him continuing to take on additional leadership responsibilities.

We hope you will join us in congratulating Harrison on this well-deserved promotion!


New Atlanta Financial Employee Kimsey Bolinger

Posted on Monday 01/16/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

Kimsey BolingerWe are pleased to announce the newest addition to the Atlanta Financial team, Kimsey Bolinger. Kimsey joined Atlanta Financial Associates in October 2017 as an Account Services Associate. She works very closely with Julie Andrews to ensure all of her clients receive an elevated level of service. Kimsey currently coordinates the new client onboarding process, handles cashiering transactions and generates reports as well as paperwork for client meetings. She joins the team after her recent graduation from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. Kimsey is currently working towards obtaining her Series 7 and 63 securities registrations through Commonwealth Financial Network.

Kimsey is from the Brunswick-St. Simons Island area but has resided in Atlanta for almost four years. Much of her time outside of the office is currently being occupied with planning for her upcoming wedding in October 2018. She enjoys hiking, attending concerts, and spending time outside with her fiancé, James, and dog, Stella.

We are excited to have her on our team and hope you will join us in welcoming her!


How Much Risk Can You Take?

Posted on Monday 01/16/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

Many market shocks are short-lived once investors conclude the event is unlikely to cause lasting economic damage. Still, major market downturns such as the 2000 dot-com bust and the 2008-09 credit crisis are powerful reminders that we cannot control or predict exactly how, where, or when precarious situations will arise.

Market risk refers to the possibility that an investment will lose value because of a broad decline in the financial markets, which can be the result of economic or sociopolitical factors. Investors who are willing to accept more investment risk may benefit from higher returns in the good times, but they also get hit harder during the bad times. A more conservative portfolio generally means there are fewer highs, but also fewer lows.

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Don't Delay: The Potential Benefits of Starting to Save Now

Posted on Monday 01/16/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

For long-term investment goals such as retirement, time can be one of your biggest advantages. That's because time allows your investment dollars to do some of the hard work for you through a mathematical principle known as compounding.

The snowball effect
The premise behind compounding is fairly simple. You invest to earn money, and if those returns are then reinvested, that money can also earn returns.

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The Federal Tax Code Is Being Overhauled Again: A Look Back and Ahead on Taxes

Posted by Cathy Miller, MBA, CFP®, CRPS®, CDFA™ on Monday 12/18/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

With the latest tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), being passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (November 16) and the Senate (December 1), it seems like an appropriate time to explore the history of taxation (and tax code changes) in the U.S. and how we stack up to the rest of the world.

How We Arrived Where We Are
Today, it’s easy to think taxes are too high, but in reality, they are lower now for many people than they were during various times in our nation’s history. The first federal income taxes (both corporate and personal) were temporary–enacted in 1861 to help pay for the American Civil War. Pegged at 3 percent for incomes above $800 (with minor modifications in 1862), and levied with a specific purpose, these taxes were repealed in 1872. In 1913, income tax as we know it was signed into law. At that time, corporations were taxed at 1 percent, as were personal incomes above $3,000. Those with incomes above $500,000 also paid a 6 percent surtax.

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Charles Crowley Promoted to Wealth Manager

Posted on Monday 12/18/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

We are extremely excited to announce the promotion of Charles Crowley to Wealth Manager. Over the past seven years, Charles has been an integral part of Cathy Miller’s team and been a key part of the growth of Cathy’s business during that time period. Charles has always brought with him an attitude that the clients’ needs come first and an attention to detail in the planning process that is unmatched in the industry. We are thrilled that Charles will be able to continue to leverage those abilities in an expanded role with Atlanta Financial.

Charles will still be working with Cathy’s clients on a day-to-day basis and will also begin to manage relationships as a lead advisor. Charles will also play a large role in helping Atlanta Financial continue to design and build our industry leading platform. We hope you will join us in congratulating Charles on a much deserved promotion!


Demographic Dilemma: Is America's Aging Population Slowing Down the Economy?

Posted on Monday 12/18/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

It's no secret that the demographic profile of the United States is growing older at a rapid pace. While the U.S. population is projected to grow just 8% between 2015 and 2025, the number of older Americans ages 70 to 84 will skyrocket 50%.

With roughly 75 million members, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) make up the largest generation in U.S. history. As a group, boomers have longer life expectancies and had fewer children than previous generations.

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Fact or Fiction?

Posted on Monday 12/18/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

Fiction: By letting my adult kids live with me, I'm helping them become financially independent.

Fact: There's a fine line between providing temporary support to grown children and enabling bad habits. In offering free or cheap housing, are you setting the expectation that you'll continue to fund a lifestyle that your children may not be able to afford on their own? To foster financial independence, consider some compromises: Charge rent or ask them to cover at least one expense (such as groceries for the household) on a consistent basis. Set boundaries and keep track of how your children spend their money–you want to help relieve the stress from crushing student loan debt, but you don't need to finance their vacations or spa visits.


Protecting Your Retirement Income from a Silent Killer

Posted by Rick Henderson, CPA, CFP®, AIF® on Thursday 11/16/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

In talking to my clients about planning for their retirement income and building portfolios for their retirement, I find that many of them are concerned about stock market volatility and protecting what they have built over the years. What I rarely hear them mention is the silent killer of retirement income purchasing power: inflation.

What can you do to prevent your retirement income’s purchasing power from this silent killer?

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Ten Year-End Tax Tips for 2017

Posted on Thursday 11/16/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

This year, with the possibility of tax reform being passed prior to year-end, it is especially important to consult your advisor and/or tax professional for customized advice, since the changes to tax law may mean deferring income or accelerating expenses may or may not be right in every situation.

Here are 10 things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year.

1. Set aside time to plan
Effective planning requires that you have a good understanding of your current tax situation, as well as a reasonable estimate of how your circumstances might change next year. There's a real opportunity for tax savings if you'll be paying taxes at a lower rate in one year than in the other. However, the window for most tax-saving moves closes on December 31, so don't procrastinate.

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What You Can Do with a Will

Posted on Thursday 11/16/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

A will is often the cornerstone of an estate plan. Here are five things you can do with a will.

Distribute property as you wish
Wills enable you to leave your property at your death to a surviving spouse, a child, other relatives, friends, a trust, a charity, or anyone you choose. There are some limits, however, on how you can distribute property using a will. For instance, your spouse may have certain rights with respect to your property, regardless of the provisions of your will.

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Atlanta Financial Associates Partners Cathy Miller, Julianne Andrews and Rick Henderson Selected as Five Star Wealth Managers for Sixth Consecutive Year

Posted on Thursday 11/02/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

We are proud to announce that Cathy Miller, Julie Andrews and Rick Henderson—have each received the 2017 Five Star Wealth Manager award* for the greater Atlanta area.

According to Five Star Professional, the Five Star Wealth Manager award is the largest and most widely published wealth manager program in the financial services industry. Award criteria is based on a rigorous, multifaceted research methodology, incorporating input from peers and firm leaders, client retention rates, industry experience and a thorough regulatory history review.

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How To Manage Identity Theft After The Sweeping Equifax Hack

Posted by Julianne F. Andrews, MBA, CFP®, AIF® on Thursday 10/19/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

Would you be surprised to learn that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America? In 2014, the year for which the latest figures are available, 17 million Americans had their identities stolen. With an average loss to the affected victim estimated at $2,000, that’s $25 billion in financial losses in the U.S. alone.

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All of Georgia Now Eligible for Disaster Tax Relief

Posted on Thursday 10/19/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

IR-2017-156, Sept. 19, 2017

WASHINGTON – Hurricane Irma victims in the entire state of Georgia now have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers with valid extensions that run out on Oct. 16, and businesses with extensions that ran out on Sept. 15. It parallels relief previously granted to Irma victims throughout Florida and in parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and Harvey victims in parts of Texas.

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Company Stock and Your Portfolio: Keep Your Eye on Concentration Risk

Posted on Thursday 10/19/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

The opportunity to acquire company stock — inside or outside a workplace retirement plan — can be a lucrative employee benefit. But having too much of your retirement plan assets or net worth concentrated in your employer's stock could become a problem if the company or sector hits hard times and the stock price plummets.

Buying shares of any individual stock carries risks specific to that company or industry. A shift in market forces, regulation, technology, competition — even mismanagement, scandals, and other unexpected events — could damage the value of the business. Worst case, the stock price may never recover.

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Weathering the Storms, Financially Speaking

Posted by Cathy Miller, MBA, CFP®, CRPS®, CDFA™ on Monday 09/25/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

With stories of the many victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma dominating the news, we are reminded of the devastation natural disasters can bring. The loss of life and enormous economic loss are staggering. While we are largely powerless when faced with storms of this magnitude, there are still steps we can take to prepare for the unexpected. While most disaster preparedness focuses on physical survival, there are critical measures we should take to minimize the financial havoc a natural disaster could otherwise bring.

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Save the Date - Planning for Retirement is Hard Work, November 10, 2017

Posted on Monday 09/25/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

You've been planning for your retirement since your career started but when you are finally ready, will all of the hard work pay off? It's time to get to work and find out. We're hosting a Retirement Readiness workshop on Friday, November 10 from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm to help folks just like you make sure they are truly prepared.

Join AFA as we host Commonwealth Financial Network's Joni Youngwirth for this interactive workshop where we consider the aspects of retirement planning beyond the financials. We will cover:

  • Career & work
  • Health & wellness
  • Finance & insurance
  • Family & relationships
  • Leisure & social
  • Personal development

The workshop will be individually customized for each attendee. Registrants are asked to complete a short, online assessment – prior to the session – which focuses on twenty dimensions of retirement success. During the workshop, you will be presented with the results of your survey as well as insight to help you decide where to put more energy in preparing for this life transition.

Ready to get to work?

Since space will be limited, please RSVP today to:

Angela Fernandez - 770-261-5380 or afernandez@atlantafinancial.com

If you have a friend or colleague preparing to retire who might be interested in attending, let Angela know and we'll do our best to accommodate them, space permitting.

We hope to see you on November 10!


For Women, a Pay Gap Could lead to a Retirement Gap

Posted on Monday 09/25/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

Retirement Gap for WomenWomen in the workforce generally earn less than men. While the gender pay gap is narrowing, it is still significant. The difference in wages, coupled with other factors, can lead to a shortfall in retirement savings for women.

Statistically speaking
Generally, women work fewer years and contribute less toward their retirement than men, resulting in lower lifetime savings. According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • 56.7% of women work at gainful employment, which accounts for 46.8% of the labor force
  • The median annual earnings for women is $39,621 – 21.4% less than the median annual earnings for men

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Medicare and Your Employer Health Plan

Posted on Monday 09/25/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

If you plan to continue working after you reach age 65, you may be wondering how Medicare coordinates with your employer's group health plan. When you're eligible for both types of coverage, you'll need to consider the benefits and costs, and navigate an array of rules.

How does Medicare work with your group health plan?
You can generally wait to enroll in Medicare if you have group health insurance through your employer or your spouse's employer. Most employers can't require employees or covered spouses to enroll in Medicare to retain eligibility for their group health benefits. However, some small employers can, so contact your plan's benefits administrator to find out if you're required to sign up for Medicare when you reach age 65.

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Fact vs. Fiction

Posted on Monday 09/25/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

Fiction: By letting my adult kids live with me, I'm helping them become financially independent.

Fact: There's a fine line between providing temporary support to grown children and enabling bad habits. In offering free or cheap housing, are you setting the expectation that you'll continue to fund a lifestyle that your children may not be able to afford on their own? To foster financial independence, consider some compromises: Charge rent or ask them to cover at least one expense (such as groceries for the household) on a consistent basis. Set boundaries and keep track of how your children spend their money–you want to help relieve the stress from crushing student loan debt, but you don't need to finance their vacations or spa visits.


How Two Healthcare Trends Are Helping People Live Longer, Healthier Lives

Posted by Rick Henderson, CPA, CFP®, AIF® on Friday 08/25/2017 - 10:00

Healthcare in America is a topic that many people are concerned about today. Almost every day in the news, we hear about the problems of Obamacare, whether it is surging costs of health insurance premiums, increased deductibles and co-pays, health insurance companies pulling out of certain markets, or the repeated failed attempts to repeal or otherwise modify the program. Another thing we hear sometimes is that people age 65 and older have found it hard to find new primary care doctors because many doctors are not taking new Medicare patients.

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The AFA Family Welcomes a Baby!

Posted on Friday 08/25/2017 - 10:00

lease join us in congratulating Charles Crowley and his wife, Erin, on the birth of their beautiful baby boy!

Charles Everett Crowley arrived at 12:14 am on July 21, 2017 - 8 lbs. 3 oz. and 20 3/4 inches long.

We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of our AFA family!


25th Anniversary Celebration

Posted on Friday 08/25/2017 - 10:00

September 23, 2017
Villa Christina, Hyatt Regency – Atlanta Perimeter
6:30 – 9 pm

It's our twenty-fifth anniversary in business and we're ready to celebrate!

Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 23, 2017, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Villa Christina. We'll be commemorating this wonderful firm milestone and the party simply won't be complete without you.

Anniversaries offer the opportunity to look back and reflect on where you've been as well as the opportunity to look ahead to what the future holds. We know that we wouldn't be where we are today without each and every client, and that a successful future depends on our client relationships.

This party will celebrate both our anniversary and our clients. We'll be recognizing the tenure of our relationship with you, so we sincerely hope you'll join us.

We look forward to an evening of revelry and merriment as we celebrate Atlanta Financial and YOU!


Working in Retirement: What You Need to Know

Posted on Friday 08/25/2017 - 10:00

Planning on working during retirement? If so, you're not alone. Recent studies have consistently shown that a majority of retirees plan to work at least some period of time during their retirement years. Here are some points to consider.

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Five Common Financial Aid Myths

Posted on Friday 08/25/2017 - 10:00

With some private colleges now crossing the once unthinkable $70,000-per-year mark in the 2017/2018 school year, and higher costs at public colleges, too, financial aid is essential for many families. How much do you know about this important piece of the college financing puzzle? Consider these financial aid myths.

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Fact vs. Fiction (New Section!)

Posted on Friday 08/25/2017 - 10:00

Fiction: Tax rates are the same no matter how many days I rent out my vacation home.

Fact: If you rent out a vacation home for fewer than 15 nights per year, you can keep the income without reporting it to the IRS. If you rent it out for longer, you must report the rental income, but you also qualify to claim certain deductions. How much you get to deduct depends on how you divide your personal time at the property and the rental time. If you spend 14 nights per year at the home, or more than 10 percent of the number of nights it is rented out (whichever is longer), the IRS considers the home a personal residence, and you can write off typical rental expenses against your rental income.


Successful Retirement: It's All About Your Other 'IRA'

Posted by Julianne Andrews on Tuesday 07/18/2017 - 10:00

Most of us spend considerable time planning the financial side of retirement but we often give the most important part of the next phase of life short shrift. Finding meaningful purpose, however you define it, is what makes retirement satisfying and fulfilling. At Atlanta Financial, we have found that it's your other IRA – your "Individual Retirement Attitude" – that makes the difference in this next stage of life.

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Cathy Miller Helps TCU Students and Alumni Understand Fiscal Responsibilities

Posted Tuesday, 07/18/2017 - 10:00

Research has long shown that women often relate to money differently than men. A capacity audience of TCU students and alumni recently attended a panel discussion about "Women and Money: The Real Power" to learn more about these differences and the challenges they can pose. Moderator Homer Erekson, Dean of TCU's Neely School of Business, stimulated thought-provoking debate about how women learn about money and make financial decisions from a trio of leading financial experts including Cathy Miller, Principal and Co-founder, Atlanta Financial Associates; Chelsea Alexander, Wealth Management Advisor; and Lyle Thornton, Banking Center President, Southwest Bank.

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Mark Your Calendar!

Posted Tuesday, 07/18/2017 - 10:00

State of the Markets Webinar
August 14, 2017
The financial world is incredibly complex – and, these days, we're all bombarded with dramatic headlines and contrasting opinions. This webinar is designed to educate you about some of the factors we, and expert financial analysts, are watching.

In lieu of our written market report, we are providing an opportunity for you to hear us discuss the markets first-hand.

Neighborhood Dinner: Decatur
August 23, 2017
We're hitting the road and meeting our clients where they live by hosting theme dinners throughout the Atlanta Metro area. August's gathering will be in Decatur. If you live in the area and your situation is a good fit for the program topic, be on the lookout for a personal invitation and plan to bring a friend!

25th Anniversary Celebration
September 23, 2017
Atlanta Financial turns 25 this year! Come celebrate this milestone anniversary with us. Details coming soon!

Retirement Readiness with Joni Youngwirth
November 10, 2017
We've been planning your financial retirement for quite some time but this workshop focuses on aspects of retirement beyond the financials. We will address important topics related to:

  • Work and career in retirement
  • Health and wellness
  • Family and relationships
  • Leisure and hobbies
  • Personal Development

This interactive workshop will be customized to you. You will be asked to complete a short online assessment prior to the workshop. During the workshop, you will receive your results, which will focus on twenty dimensions of retirement success. The results will help you decide where to put more energy in preparing for a next life transition. The workshop will be facilitated by Joni Youngwirth, an outside expert affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network. The workshop will be interactive, but it will also be fun!

Please RSVP to Angela Fernandez at 770-261-5380 or afernandez@atlantafinanical.com by October 6.


Future of the Federal Estate Tax

Posted Tuesday, 07/18/2017 - 10:00

While no one can predict the future, the possibility of tax reform is once again in the spotlight. If it occurs, it may very well include repeal of the federal estate tax and related changes to the federal gift tax, the federal generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, and the federal income tax basis rules.

History of the federal estate tax

In general, an estate tax is a tax on property a person owns at death. In one form or another, a federal estate tax has been enacted or repealed a number of times since 1797.

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The Health-Wealth Connection

Posted Tuesday, 07/18/2017 - 10:00

As we enter the summer, some exciting transitions are happening in our AFA family. My youngest daughter, Jen, has graduated from college (making me an official “empty-nester”). Charles Crowley and his wife, Erin, are about to welcome the next generation of “AFA babies” into the world as they become first-time parents. And, Julie Andrews has welcomed her first grandchild, a baby boy named Wilson.

These are certainly all joyful events, but each one of them brings change and challenges. How do we adjust to these changes, and as parents how do we guide our children in their transitions?

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Successful Financial Planning for the Seasons of Life

Posted Thursday, 06/15/2017 - 10:00

As we enter the summer, some exciting transitions are happening in our AFA family. My youngest daughter, Jen, has graduated from college (making me an official “empty-nester”). Charles Crowley and his wife, Erin, are about to welcome the next generation of “AFA babies” into the world as they become first-time parents. And, Julie Andrews has welcomed her first grandchild, a baby boy named Wilson.

These are certainly all joyful events, but each one of them brings change and challenges. How do we adjust to these changes, and as parents how do we guide our children in their transitions?

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Atlanta Financial Family News

Posted Thursday, 06/15/2017 - 10:00

Welcome to the World, Wilson!
Atlanta Financial partner Julie Andrews became a new grandmother when her oldest son, Will, and his wife, Allison, welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Wilson Pittman Andrews IV, in May. See our lead article above about how new grandparents, like Julie, can incorporate grandchildren into their financial planning and gifting. Congratulations to the growing Andrews family!

Watch Out World - Jen Miller is a College Graduate
Jen Miller, Cathy Miller’s youngest child, is a college graduate! Jen received her BBS in Entrepreneurial Management from Texas Christian University (TCU) in May. Following a celebratory graduation trip with her mom, Jen will be moving to Tampa and starting her career as a Program Manager with Schneider Electric.

Cathy authored this month’s lead article about financial planning through the seasons of life, including transitioning your recent college graduate from financial dependence to independence. We’re confident that Jen will make that transition seamlessly and successfully. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for her!


Expect the Unexpected: What To Do If You Become Disabled

Posted Thursday, 06/15/2017 - 10:00

In a recent survey, 46% of retirees said they retired earlier than planned, and not necessarily because they chose to do so. In fact, many said they had to leave the workforce early because of health issues or a disability.

Although you may be healthy and financially stable now, an unexpected diagnosis or injury could significantly derail your life plans. Would you know what to do, financially speaking, if you suddenly became disabled? Now may be a good time to familiarize yourself with the following information, before an emergency arises.

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4 Things To Do in the 4 Years Before College

Posted Thursday, 06/15/2017 - 10:00

College is a huge financial undertaking. With costs increasing every year and the prospect of too much student debt at the forefront of many families' minds, it's more important than ever to be an educated college consumer. Go into the planning process wisely with these four steps.

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Finding Your Sweet Spot in Retirement

Posted by Rick Henderson on Monday 05/22/2017 - 12:00

In my conversations with clients who are beginning to prepare for their transition into retirement, I ask them, "What would you like to do in retirement?", and often they answer, "I'm not really sure" or "I haven't really decided yet." What's interesting about those answers is that while they have worked for years preparing financially for a successful retirement, they have not considered the other aspects of retirement that, along with sound financial preparation, will truly make them happy in retirement.

Some retirement experts say that the two main things that you need for a successful retirement are enough assets to live on, and enough relationships, interests and activities to live for. However, many people spend more time planning their annual family vacations than they spend planning for a successful and happy retirement which might last 30 years or longer. If you're not sure what you are going to do in retirement, how can you find your "sweet spot" in retirement?

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Mark Your Calendar & Join Us!

Neighborhood Dinner: Sandy Springs
June 29, 2017
We're hitting the road and meeting our clients where they live by hosting theme dinners throughout the Atlanta Metro area. June's gathering will be in Sandy Springs. If you live in the area and your situation is a good fit for the program topic, be on the lookout for a personal invitation!

State of the Markets Webinar
August 14, 2017
The financial world is incredibly complex – and, these days, we're all bombarded with dramatic headlines and contrasting opinions. This webinar is designed to educate you about some of the factors we, and expert financial analysts, are watching.

In lieu of our written market report, we are providing an opportunity for you to hear us discuss the markets first-hand.

25th Anniversary Celebration
September 23, 2017
Atlanta Financial turns 25 this year! Come celebrate this milestone anniversary with us. Details coming soon!


Congratulations to Chris Pena, CRC®

Financial Planning Coordinator Chris Pena recently passed his Certified Retirement Counselor® (CRC) exam demonstrating a mastery of both retirement accumulation and distribution planning. This certification is one of only a very few retirement and financial planning-related certifications independently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). We are proud of Chris as he has gained valuable retirement knowledge and skills to help him bring even more value to his work with our clients. Nice work, Chris!


Four Numbers You Need to Know Now

Posted on Monday 05/22/2017 - 12:10

When it comes to your finances, you might easily overlook some of the numbers that really count. Here are four to pay attention to now that might really matter in the future.

1. Retirement plan contribution rate
What percentage of your salary are you contributing to a retirement plan? Making automatic contributions through an employer-sponsored plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan is an easy way to save for retirement, but this out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach may result in a disparity between what you need to save and what you actually are saving for retirement. Checking your contribution rate and increasing it periodically can help you stay on track toward your retirement savings goal.

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Is It Wise to Trade Your Pension for a Lump Sum?

Posted on Monday 05/22/2017 - 12:30

Most private employers have already replaced traditional pensions, which promise lifetime income payments in retirement, with defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. But 15% of private-sector workers and 75% of state and local government workers still participate in traditional pensions.1Altogether, 35% of workers say they (and/or their spouse) have pension benefits with a current or former employer.2

Many pension plan participants have the option to take their money in a lump sum when they retire. And since 2012, an increasing number of large corporate pensions have been implementing "lump-sum windows" during which vested former employees have a limited amount of time (typically 30 to 90 days) to accept or decline buyout offers.3 (Lump-sum offers to retirees already receiving pension benefits are no longer allowed.)

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Making Social Security Decisions with Confidence

By Julianne F. Andrews, MBA, CFP®, AIF®

Deciding when to begin taking Social Security can be confusing and overwhelming especially when you consider that once the decision is made, it can be difficult to change and a 12-month time restriction applies. Determining the optimal time to begin taking benefits depends on several factors, including the amount of benefits available to you and your spouse (if married), life expectancy, the date of your retirement, and the availability of other assets and income sources, such as 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and retirement savings plans, that can be tapped during non-working years.

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Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Harrison Fant!

On March 11, 2017, our own Harrison Fant, Associate Advisor, married Erin Blossom at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. A beautiful reception was held at Roswell's Ivy Hall to celebrate the couple. Harrison and Erin took a wedding trip to St. Lucia and returned to their newly purchased home in Roswell to begin what we hope will be a long and happy life together. Please join us in wishing Harrison and Erin all the best!


Spencer Weresch Has a New Title and a New CMFC Designation

We are pleased to announce that Spencer Weresch's role has been expanded to include responsibility for heading up account services projects for the firm as directed by the principals. His new title will be Senior Operations Project Leader as he adds these new responsibilities to his continuing work supporting Julie's clients.

Additionally, congratulations are in order as Spencer recently earned his Charted Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC®) designation. The CMFC designation is the only industry-recognized mutual fund designation. The program provides recipients with a "thorough knowledge of mutual funds and their various uses as investment vehicles," according to the College for Financial Planning who offers the designation in conjunction with the Investment Company Institute (ICI).


Four Ways to Double the Power of Your Tax Refund

The IRS expects that more than 70% of taxpayers will receive a refund in 2017.¹ What you do with a tax refund is up to you, but here are some ideas that may make your refund twice as valuable.

Double your savings
Perhaps you'd like to use your tax refund to start an education fund for your children or grandchildren, contribute to a retirement savings account for yourself, or save for a rainy day. A financial concept known as the Rule of 72 can give you a rough estimate of how long it might take to double what you initially save. Simply divide 72 by the annual rate you hope that your money will earn. For example, if you invest your tax refund and it earns a 6% average annual rate of return, your investment might double in approximately 12 years (72 divided by 6 equals 12).

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Converting Retirement Savings to Retirement Income

You've been saving diligently for years, and now it's time to think about how to convert the money in your traditional 401(k)s (or similar workplace savings plans) into retirement income. But hold on, not so fast. You may need to take a few steps first.

Evaluate your needs
If you haven't done so, estimate how much income you'll need to meet your desired lifestyle in retirement. Conventional wisdom says to plan on needing 70% to 100% of your annual pre-retirement income to meet your needs in retirement; however, your specific amount will depend on your unique circumstances. First identify your non-negotiable fixed needs — such as housing, food, and medical care — to get clarity on how much it will cost to make basic ends meet. Then identify your variable wants — including travel, leisure, and entertainment. Segregating your expenses into needs and wants will help you develop an income strategy to fund both.

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Spring Cleaning Your Finances

The arrival of spring often signifies a time of renewal, a reminder to dust off the cobwebs and get rid of the dirt and grime that have built up throughout the winter season. And while most spring cleaning projects are likely focused on your home, you could take this time to evaluate and clean up your personal finances as well.

Examine your budget..and stick with it
A budget is the centerpiece of any good personal financial plan. Start by identifying your income and expenses. Next, add them up and compare the two totals to make sure you are spending less than you earn. If you find that your expenses outweigh your income, you'll need to make some adjustments to your budget (e.g., reduce discretionary spending).

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Julianne Andrews Honored in Forbes Ranking of America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors

ATLANTA – March 9, 2017 – Atlanta Financial Associates, an independent financial advisory firm, today announced that Julianne F. Andrews, MBA, CFP®, AIF®, has been recognized by Forbes in their ranking of America's Top Women Wealth Advisors for 2017. The inaugural list was published on Forbes.com earlier this month. Andrews, who is ranked 155 nationally, is one of only four advisors from the state of Georgia.

Andrews is a Principal and co-founder of Atlanta Financial Associates. With more than 25 years of comprehensive wealth management experience, Andrews provides holistic financial planning, asset protection and taxation strategies for physicians, professionals and individuals at or nearing retirement.

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Opening the "Back Door" to Retirement Savings

By Cathy Miller

I remember one of my grandmother's favorite sayings was, "When you can't come in the front door, don't be afraid to go in by the back door." This saying perfectly captured this amazing woman's outlook on life - that we should never give up, and need to be creative to find solutions to the "curve balls" life can throw our way.

Little did I know that this advice would someday apply to the complex world of retirement planning. For those of you who have heard of "back door Roth IRA contributions," the connection may be getting a little clearer.

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Save the Dates for Upcoming Events!

Retirement Readiness Event
April 7, 2017
9:30 am to 4 pm
Palisades Office Park – Atlanta

We've been planning your financial retirement for quite some time but this workshop focuses on aspects of retirement beyond the financials. We will address important topics related to:

  • Work and career in retirement
  • Health and wellness
  • Family and relationships
  • Leisure and hobbies
  • Personal Development

READ MORE >


Due Date Approaches for 2016 Federal Income Tax Returns

Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together – that includes getting your hands on a copy of last year's tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records. You'll need these records whether you're preparing your own return or paying someone else to do your taxes for you.

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Why Diversification Matters

When investing, particularly for long-term goals, there is one concept you will likely hear about over and over again – diversification. Why is diversification so important? The simple reason is that it helps ensure that your risk of loss is spread among a number of different investments. The theory is that if some of the investments in your portfolio decline in value, others may rise or hold steady, helping to offset the losses.

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How Can I Prepare Financially for Stormy Weather?

Stormy weather, floods, tornadoes, torrential rain, lightning, and hail are common events in many parts of the country during the spring and may result in widespread damage. Severe weather often strikes with little warning, so take measures now to protect yourself and your property.

Review your insurance coverage. Make sure your homeowners and auto insurance coverage is sufficient. While standard homeowners insurance covers losses from fire, lightning, and hail, you may need to buy separate coverage for hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. Consult your insurer or insurance professional, who can help determine whether you have adequate coverage for the risks you face.

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Building a Housing Plan for Retirement

By Rick Henderson

For many, retirement is the result of a lifetime of work and years of saving and planning. It is a time where you can start doing all those things on your "Bucket List," and may include things like travel; spending more time on activities like golf, tennis, or fishing; volunteering; pursuing those interests that you never had time for while you were working; and spending more time with family.

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Harrison Fant Receives Accredited Investment Fiduciary Designation

Harrison Fant is on a roll! Last month, he received his Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) designation and this month, he received his Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF) designation. The AIF designation represents a thorough knowledge of and ability to apply the fiduciary practices. According to fi360, home of the AIF and AIFA® designations, AIF designees have a reputation in the financial services industry for their "ability to implement a prudent process into their own investment practices as well as being able to assist others in implementing proper policies and procedures." Nice work, Harrison!


Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Social Security is an important source of retirement income for millions of Americans, but how much do you know about this program? Test your knowledge, and learn more about your retirement benefits, by answering the following questions.

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Grandparents Can Help Bridge the College Cost Gap

For many families, a college education is a significant financial burden that is increasingly hard to meet with savings, current income, and a manageable amount of loans. For some, the ace in the hole might be grandparents, whose added funds can help bridge the gap. If you're a grandparent who would like to help fund your grandchild's college education, here are some strategies.

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Can the IRS Waive the 60-Day IRA Rollover Deadline?

If you take a distribution from your IRA intending to make a 60-day rollover, but for some reason the funds don't get to the new IRA trustee in time, the tax impact can be significant. In general, the rollover is invalid, the distribution becomes a taxable event, and you're treated as having made a regular, instead of a rollover, contribution to the new IRA. But all may not be lost. The 60-day requirement is automatically waived if all of the following apply:

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Retiring FITT: A Road Map to Retirement

At Atlanta Financial, we've re-drawn the map to retirement. Our "Retiring FITT" system, a proprietary program, is designed to empower retirees to make good decisions when going through the retirement process. It has changed the way we talk about retirement, putting the client and investor in the driver’s seat.

The system addresses 25 different aspects of retirement and helps clients develop a solid action plan for retirement by looking at the entire picture and providing the missing pieces. This comprehensive program alleviates fears of making critical and permanent mistakes.

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Atlanta Financial Launches Blog

We are pleased to announce the addition of our new blog to the Atlanta Financial website. We welcome you to visit regularly for posts about retirement, financial and tax planning, as well as our thoughts and opinions on current events that may impact financial strategies.


Harrison Fant Receives Certified Financial Planner Designation

Congratulations to Harrison Fant for earning his Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation! According to the CFP Board, the CFP process "identifies to the public that the individual has met rigorous professional standards and has agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients." Harrison has been authorized to use the CFP certification marks in the U.S.


Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2017

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans, thresholds for deductions and credits, and standard deduction and personal exemption amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2017.

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Growth, Value or Both

The terms growth and value are often used to describe two different investment strategies, yet many investors may want both qualities in an investment. Famed investor Warren Buffett put it this way in a 2015 interview: "I always say if you aren't investing for value, what are you investing for? And the idea that value and growth are two different things makes no sense.... Growth is part of the value equation."

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Please Join Us for Atlanta Financial’s Holiday Open House – December 15

Holiday Open House

 

 

Julie Andrews Talks Medical Costs and Retirement in Atlanta Business Chronicle

Are you worried about how medical costs might impact your retirement? The Atlanta Business Chronicle recently interviewed our own Julie Andrews on this very topic and the resulting article, "Medical Costs Can Hamper Retirement," ran in the October 25, 2016, issue of the paper.

Here is an excerpt:

Julianne Andrews, principal at Atlanta Financial Associates, said the space has evolved over the last several years but more of her clients are interested in coverage, especially those who have aging parents who are facing costly medical challenges.

"They know first hand how expensive medical problems can be," she said. "But the marketplace has changed. Many carriers have gotten out, the premiums have gone up and the benefits have been curtailed pretty significantly."

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The Giving Season: Six Tips for Making Smart and Effective Charitable Donations This Holiday Season

The holidays are a popular time for charitable donations. With so many charities to choose from, it's more important than ever to ensure that your donation is well spent. Here are six tips that can help you make smart and effective charitable donations.

1. Choose your charities wisely

Choosing worthy organizations that support the causes you care about can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be time-consuming. There are several well-known organizations that rate and review charities, as well as provide useful tips and information on how to donate and choose a charity (see sidebar). To get started, here are some things to consider:

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Playing Catch-up with Your 401(K) or IRA

A recent survey of baby boomers (ages 53 to 69) found that just 24% were confident they would have enough money to last throughout retirement. Forty-five percent had no retirement savings at all, and of those who did have savings, 42% had saved less than $100,000.

Your own savings may be on more solid ground, but regardless of your current balance, it's smart to keep it growing. If you're 50 or older, you could benefit by making catch-up contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. You might be surprised by how much your nest egg could grow late in your working career.

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What It Means To Be A Financial Caregiver For Your Parents

If you are the adult child of aging parents, you may find yourself in the position of someday having to assist them with handling their finances. Whether that time is in the near future or sometime further down the road, there are some steps you can take now to make the process a bit easier.

Mom and Dad, can we talk?

Your first step should be to get a handle on your parents' finances so you fully understand their current financial situation. The best time to do so is when your parents are relatively healthy and active. Otherwise, you may find yourself making critical decisions on their behalf in the midst of a crisis.

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IRS Announces 2017 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

On October 27, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service announced its annual cost-of-living adjustments for 2017 retirement plan-related items. A key change this year is that the defined contribution limit is increasing from $53,000 to $54,000. All other contribution limits will remain the same.


Trump of Clinton?

by JULIANNE ANDREWS

This year's election of a new United States president will make history. For the first time, a woman is running for the country's top job, and her opponent is not a seasoned politician but a businessman. While those circumstances will certainly be heralded and much studied, what does it mean to the savvy investor?

Although a change in leadership — especially if it's a pivot from one party to the other — seems likely to impact market performance, a quick review of history reveals otherwise. Despite the common opinion that the market performs better with a pro-business party in the White House, the country's financial health, as evidenced by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has achieved healthy double digit returns under both Republican and Democrat governance.

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Atlanta Financial Associates Partners Selected as Five Star Wealth Managers for 2016

Atlanta, GA – October 4, 2016 – Atlanta Financial Associates, an independent financial advisory firm, today announced that Cathy Miller, Julianne Andrews and Rick Henderson have each received the 2016 Five Star Wealth Manager award* for the greater Atlanta area.

The Five Star Wealth Manager award is the largest and most widely published wealth manager program in the financial services industry. The criteria is based on a rigorous, multifaceted research methodology, incorporating input from peers and firm leaders, client retention rates, industry experience and a thorough regulatory history review. 
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Substantiating Your Charitable Gifts

When you claim a federal income tax deduction for charitable contributions, you must substantiate the contributions by maintaining certain records. The records must establish the charity to whom the gift was made, the amount of cash or the type and value of other property donated to charity, whether anything was received in consideration for the contribution, and certain other requirements. The records needed generally depend on the type and value of the property donated; there may be some overlap in requirements. In general, do not attach the records to your income tax return. Keep the records so that you can provide them to the IRS if requested to do so.
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Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax

It's been around since 2013, but many are still struggling to come to grips with the net investment income tax. The 3.8% tax, which is sometimes referred to as the Medicare surtax on net investment income, affected approximately 3.1 million federal income tax returns for 2013 (the only year for which data is available) to the tune of almost $11.7 billion.1 Here's what you need to know.
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I'm thinking about asking my parents to move in with me and my family. Is there anything I need to consider?

Many members of the "sandwich generation"--a group loosely defined as people in their 40s to 60s who are "sandwiched" between caring for their own children and aging parents--find themselves in the position of raising a family and looking after the needs of aging parents. If the time has come when you and your parents think that it may be in their best interest to live with you, you should discuss the implications and how it will impact your entire family.
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Sahil Khetani Passes the Series 63 Exam

Congratulations to Account Services Associate Sahil Khetani for passing his Series 63 exam, the final step in being licensed to trade accounts. The Series 63, known as the Uniform Securities Agent license, is an exam administered to investment industry professionals by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).


Quiz: Test Your Interest Rate Knowledge

In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds target rate to a range of 0.25% to 0.50%, the first rate increase from the near-zero range where it had lingered for seven years. Many economists viewed this action as a positive sign that the Fed had finally deemed the U.S. economy healthy enough to withstand slightly higher interest rates. It remains to be seen how rate increases will play out for the remainder of 2016. In the meantime, try taking this short quiz to test your interest rate knowledge.
TAKE THE QUIZ >


How to Get a Bigger Social Security Retirement Benefit

Many people decide to begin receiving early Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, about 72% of retired workers receive benefits prior to their full retirement age. 1 But waiting longer could significantly increase your monthly retirement income, so weigh your options carefully before making a decision.
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How is GDP calculated in the U.S.?

GDP, or gross domestic product, is a measurement of the total value of all goods and services produced in the United States over a given time period. It is used by economists, government officials, market forecasters and others to gauge the overall health of the U.S. economy.
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What is the most important component of GDP in the United States?

We often hear in the media that consumer spending is crucial to the overall health of the U.S. economy, but exactly how important is it? Representing approximately two-thirds of overall GDP, consumption--the almighty consumer--is the largest driver of economic growth in the United States. Of the nearly $18 trillion in U.S. GDP (2015), American shoppers are responsible for a piece of the pie worth about $12 trillion.
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Congratulations to Our New Series 7 Recipients

Sahil Khetani, Account Services Associate, and Kassi Conley, Client Service Administrator, recently passed their Series 7 exams, an essential license for a securities representative. The Series 7 exam, also known as the General Securities Representative Qualification Examination, assesses the candidate's knowledge of corporate securities sales, municipal securities, investment company securities, variable annuities, direct participation programs, options and government securities.
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Life Insurance Options After Retirement

Life insurance can serve many valuable purposes during your life. However, once you've retired, you may no longer feel the need to keep your life insurance, or the cost of maintaining the policy may have become too expensive. In these cases, you might be tempted to abandon the policy or surrender your life insurance coverage. But there are other alternatives to consider as well.
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Should You Buy or Lease Your Next Vehicle?

After declining dramatically a few years ago, auto sales are up, leasing offers are back, and incentives and deals abound. So if you're in the market for a new vehicle, should you buy it or lease it? To decide, you'll need to consider how each option fits into your lifestyle and your budget. This chart shows some points to compare.
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Common Financial Wisdom: Theory vs. Practice

In the financial world, there are a lot of rules about what you should be doing. In theory, they sound reasonable. But in practice, it may not be easy, or even possible, to follow them. Let's look at some common financial maxims and why it can be hard to implement them.
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Q&A on IRAs

Can I make charitable contributions from my IRA in 2016?
Yes, if you qualify. The law authorizing qualified charitable distributions, or QCDs, has recently been made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015.
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Atlanta Financial Welcomes Four New Team Members

Our team is growing and changing!  We are excited to announce the addition of the following team members:  Christopher Pena CFP®, Financial Planning Coordinator; Kassi Conley, Client Service Administrator; Sahil Khetani, Account Services Associate; and Tiana Cannon, Office Administrator.
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Hear how Atlanta Financial makes life’s journey richer.

Atlanta Financial TV is home to a variety of videos that allow clients and associates to share our knowledge, insight and experience. Tune in to learn more about our approach to comprehensive wealth management.

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