Stan Smith / December 14,2019

Your Year End Retirement Planning & Tax Saving Checklist


Happy Holidays!

Steve Chen

Happy holidays – give yourself the gift of tax savings

As we head into the holiday season and New Years it can pay big dividends to spend a little time seeing if any year end moves can help you save a lot on taxes or improve your financial situation. 

This month I asked people in our community and on our team for their top end of year retirement and tax planning tips. Here they are:

Build a plan 

This simple step can help you get organized, see what your levers are and make smart decisions today and in future years. In a few minutes you can build a plan that lets you:

  • See your net worth today and over time.
  • Build a projection of what your retirement income will be and what drives it (such as Social Security, part time work, any pension, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).
  • Project your expenses based on your current lifestyle, future moves, healthcare and taxes today and into the future.
  • Think through Social Security and Medicare claiming strategies.
  • Explore “What If” scenarios – for example what happens if you retire at 60 vs 65, go part time at 55, move abroad for a few years or do a series of Roth conversions to minimize taxes.
  • Make smart choices around the things you can control (savings, investing, when you retire, where you live) and understanding your options to manage the risks you can’t control (inflation, market returns and longevity). 

If you want to get started on your own plan you can check out this new free retirement planning tool.  

Maximize your company plan contributions

Stan Smith / December 14,2019

10 Ways to Inspire the Youth to Invest Money in IT Business


The world we live in offers lots of opportunities for young people. Our parents and grandparents could not even imagine that there would be wireless phones, let alone artificial intelligence and virtual assistants. 

It all has been made possible due to the rapid development of IT that is one of the dominant trends for 2020 as well.

Those people who directed their investments in IT a decade ago are millionaires today. Information and communication technologies are used in every industry you can name, staring from Education and ending with Healthcare. Thus, it is critically important to make youth understand that nowadays, IT business is the best to invest.

Let’s discuss ten best ways that can help inspire youth to invest their funds in IT.



IT is not only about high-tech. This sphere encompasses plenty of small and medium businesses, operating in web design, app development, or content writing. For example, the profits of such an academic writing platform as Essaypro are formed not only through service provision but also through the development of software that helps clients and their businesses in many ways.

Quick Returns

Time is always critically important, especially for those who continuously lack it. Thus, students who want to enjoy high and quick ROI can invest in a myriad of small IT companies that make significant profits. They can also risk investing in R&D and enjoy much higher revenues when it pays off.

Financial Education

Today, young people are more financially educated than any other generation before them. 

Stan Smith / December 14,2019

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Political Ratio Requirements for State Court Judges


by Bethany Blankley


The U.S. Supreme Court accepted a new case for the new year, Carney v. Adams, to determine whether state constitutions can require courts to have a ratio of judges based on their political party affiliation.

The case involves Delaware’s state constitutional requirement that a bare majority of its high court judges be from one political party. James Adams, a retired lawyer and former Democrat, argues the requirement violates the First Amendment.

By law, Delaware’s Supreme Court must have three judges affiliated with one of the two major political parties, and two from the other.

“Such a system assumes, without foundation, that Republicans and Democrats are monolithic in their judicial views and that their political views will control their decision-making,” Adams argued in his Supreme Court brief. “Worse, it reinforces the fears of the public that judges will decide cases based on political affiliation.”

The first page of the brief quotes Justice Neil Gorsuch, who said at his Supreme Court nomination hearing, “I am heartened by the support I have received from people who recognize that there is no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge. We just have judges in this country.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit struck down the Delaware law, which Democratic Delaware Gov. John Carney is asking the Supreme Court to reverse.

In his petition, Carney argues the law’s 3-2 political affiliation mandate has contributed to the state’s reputation of having “objective, stable, and nonpartisan” courts.

“These qualities have not come about by accident,” his brief states. “For more than 120 years, Delaware’s Constitution has required a politically balanced judiciary.”

Stan Smith / December 11,2019

Why The World Needs Garnex

Why The World Needs Garnex

Better money for all

Right now, asset-backed tokens are solving many of the devaluation problems that come from other tokenization methods. This is largely due to the tangible value tied to the token and how that affects volatility and intrinsic value.

Gold is money, and for 5,000 years, it has been used as a medium of exchange. Gold, as an asset class, has one of the richest and longest histories of all the natural assets to have been bestowed with such high value by humankind. So if we can tie the value of gold to a token, you have a unique way to protect against impending doom and enforce stability in the system.

Just as the Internet revolutionized information flow, the blockchain will revolutionize information validation. Mass disintermediation will be the next quantum leap in human productivity. Blockchain is poised to eliminate 99% of the friction involved in transacting in real things, such as gold, silver, and other commodities, displacing all who are currently employed in those frictional processes.

People that are calling cryptocurrency the next money and currency are missing the bigger picture. When you combine gold, which is one of the oldest forms of payment, with a technological and financial advancement like asset-backed tokens, you have the best of both worlds. Transacting on the blockchain will give gold asset-backed crypto-tokens tremendous value, in the same way that the global oil trade in US dollars gave the US dollar its throne seat for over forty years – people are forced to use it. 

How Fiat currencies are Tied to their government’s economic performance

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Stephen Strasburg’s Contract With Nationals Sets Market for Gerrit Cole


SAN DIEGO — A widely expected reunion materialized on Monday, the first day of baseball’s annual winter meetings: Stephen Strasburg, the World Series M.V.P. who had become a free agent, re-signed with the Washington Nationals.

Strasburg had exercised the opt-out of his previous contract with the Nationals, forfeiting a guaranteed $100 million over four years only to replace it with an eye-popping new deal that will pay him $245 million over seven years.

The deal broke two records: It is the most expensive contract ever given to a pitcher (beating David Price’s seven-year, $217 million deal from 2015), and it contains the highest average annual value for a pitcher (topping Zack Greinke’s $34.4 million a year, also from 2015).

Those marks might not last long, however.

Strasburg’s deal set the market for Gerrit Cole, 29, another free agent who is two years younger than Strasburg and who was arguably the best pitcher in baseball last season. The Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels, considered to be the primary contenders to sign Cole, most likely paid close attention to the figures in Strasburg’s new agreement.

“It’s very rare that a legacy for a team and a legacy for a player can, in our game, continue as this one has,” Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, said at a news conference on Monday to announce his client’s new deal. Boras deflected questions about Cole, one of his other clients.

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Traditional Latvian Christmas

Traditional Latvian Christmas

As everywhere in the world Latvians celebrate Christmas starting with Christmas Eve on December 24. December 25 Christmas Day is known as First Christmas and December 26 as Second Christmas. This is similar to the English Christmas where they celebrate Boxing Day on December 26 so they too have two Christmases.
Traditional Latvian Christmas

One of the hardest things is to explain is ancient Latvian traditions. Christmas Eve used to be called”Bluka vakars” this loosely translated means” Log Night” The activities that everyone engaged in on this night were log rolling in order to mimic the course of the sun. Some people also called it “Kuku Night” which stems from an old holiday eating ritual. The dish was called “Kukis” and it has no actual translation. It meant that eating this dish on this night would bring the household wealth and prosperity.

Traditional Latvian Christmas

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Caroll Spinney, Who Played Big Bird And Oscar On ‘Sesame Street,’ Dies At 85


December 8, 2019 3:52 PM ET


Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions.

“Caroll and Big Bird are very similar in their genuine niceness and sweetness and lovingness,” said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the Sesame Workshop said in a video tribute to Spinney last year. “He’s just so respectful and so nice to all the kids, and all that comes across in Big Bird.”

At a celebration for the show’s 15th anniversary in 1984, Muppet-master Jim Henson recounted how he and Spinney had met in August 1969 at a puppetry festival in Salt Lake City.

“He’s a very talented performer and he had a great sense of ad-libbing,” Henson remembered. “And he was doing this strange-looking cat on local television in Boston. And so we started talking at that point about doing this show, and I asked Caroll if he’d enjoy coming and being part of this very strange bird.”

But Spinney also played the character with the opposite of Big Bird’s sunny persona: Oscar the Grouch.

“I loved playing Oscar. He has a power I never had. … I can’t believe that Jim gave me two such characters that have become iconic, and are a part of so many people in America growing up.”

Spinney retired last year. As balance issues made the physically demanding role of Big Bird more difficult, the big yellow suit was taken on by another performer, Matt Vogel, while Spinney continued to voice Big Bird and Oscar.

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Wheel Of Fortune fans lend support to spinning star Vanna White as she steps in for host Pat Sajak

Wheel Of Fortune fans lend support to spinning star Vanna White as she steps in for host Pat Sajak

VANNA White took centre stage on Monday.

The Wheel of Fortune letter-spinner was seen for the first time in 37 years stepping into the host role.


Vanna White was seen hosting Wheel of Fortune on Monday, for the first timeCredit: Wheel Of Fortune

The 62-year-old beauty delighted fans of the show, as she filled the role in place of longtime host Pat Sajak – who had to undergo emergency surgery last month.

Vanna stepped into the breach, after Sajak, 73, went into hospital to correct a blocked intestine.

Filming had stopped for one day but resumed with Vanna in the spotlight.

The star was seen on screen with Minnie Mouse helping out with White’s usual role.

Wheel Of Fortune fans lend support to spinning star Vanna White as she steps in for host Pat Sajak


The 62-year-old beauty delighted fans of the show, as she filled the role in place of longtime host Pat Sajak – who had to undergo emergency surgery last monthCredit: Getty

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Looming Changes to Military Medical Care Cause Uncertainty

Looming Changes to Military Medical Care Cause Uncertainty

By Jennifer Barnhill, Navy Spouse

See this article inside the December issue of Military Spouse Magazine.

Looming Changes to Military Medical Care Cause Uncertainty

With the threat of losing 18,000
uniformed medical billets over the next few years,
frustrations at the lack of
health care continuity may be exacerbated for military families. Couple this
cutback with a lack of program clarity, and many beneficiaries feel as though
their care might suffer. 

Uncertainty in Change

On a good day, trying to negotiate the intricacies of a
public or private health care system can be irritating. Dealing with one when
you are mid-Permanent Change of Station or in a health crisis can result in
chalkboard-scratching, hair-pulling frustration.

Military families are among the
most vulnerable when it comes to continuity of care related issues. Moving
every two to three years requires families to start over, searching for new
health care providers, homes, schools, jobs, and friends.

In December 2016, Congress passed
the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act, the driving force behind
numerous changes to TRICARE and the Military Health System (MHS). Changes
already in effect include increased pharmacy copays and civilian-style open
enrollment period restrictions.

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Five Tips for Financing Investment Property

Five Tips for Financing Investment Property

Interested in Investment Properties? Five Things You Should Know

In today’s financial climate, investing in the stock market can be an uncertain venture at best. For this reason, many investors are looking to the real estate market as a fairly reliable, steady of passive income. To be certain, investment properties can have lucrative returns. However, most buyers simply don’t have the cash necessary on hand to purchase a rental property outright. All but the most established rental property investors will need to finance an investment property. Even if you’ve already undergone the process of securing a personal mortgage for your own home, you’ll find some significant differences when it comes to financing investment property. Learn a few key tips regarding procuring financing for your investment. 

1. Prepare a Significant Down Payment

Unlike traditional home mortgages, which may allow mortgage insurance in exchange for a relatively low down payment, investment properties do not qualify for mortgage insurance. For that reason, you’ll likely need at least 20% down to secure financing from a lender. However, that 20% is on the low end of the spectrum; the more you can contribute to the down payment, the better.