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Dollars and Sense Description

View Recent Episodes Below

March 2016 Episode: Full video (26:43)

Tune in to this episode to hear the latest financial questions we’ve received from our viewers.

What do I need to consider when planning to retire abroad?

Should I tap into my retirement savings to fund college for my child?

Is it best to finance, lease or pay cash for a new car?

Market volatility is inevitable, but people continue to make the most common mistakes.

  • First, people panic and then, they sell. Emotion can be your worst enemy—don’t forget to look at the long term.
  • Investors quit buying when the market is down. Dollar cost averaging, buying at a lower share price and allowing your money the opportunity to compound can be advantageous.
  • People let bad news in the media fuel their fear. 24/7 news media keeps people informed, but it can also keep them scared.
  • People fail to stay diversified and rebalance their portfolio. Your financial advisor can help you with this.
  • Investors stop contributing to their retirement or college plan. (Remember the idea of dollar cost averaging and compounding.)
  • People splurge on big ticket items, when they may be better off controlling their spending and paying their monthly bills.

Listen to the show to hear why it’s important to be aware of these common mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Insurance needs assessment for empty nesters and retirees.

Once the children are out of the house, financial priorities tend to be more focused on preparing for retirement. Throughout your retirement period, wealth protection is critical. The preservation of your assets is not only a function of your investment strategy, but it also is a function of your insurance risks. The show wraps up with a discussion about homeowners insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance and long-term care.


February 2016 Episode: Full video (27:01)

Viewer financial questions are answered, plus much more in this episode.

As the cost of living continues to increase, how can I evaluate whether I’ll be able to cover my expenses in retirement?

How should the executor of an estate be compensated?

What’s the best way to avoid identity theft and tax fraud?

The Medicare checklist you need to complete – 12 months prior to turning age 65.

Start to gather your resources and educate yourself about this government program, including the coverages available and the costs.

10 to 12 months before turning 65

Picture your life in retirement and calculate your needs Talk to a financial advisor about what’s important to you in retirement. Call 800-220-5433 to schedule an appointment to come into our office if you’d like to discuss. A financial advisor can help you:

  • Determine what monies you will spend in retirement, and in what order
  • Create an income distribution
  • Evaluate your expenses

8 months before turning 65

  • Review your Social Security statement for accuracy.
  • Read up on Medicare and what it covers - Part A, B, C, and D.
  • Ask your doctors if they are taking new Medicare patients.

6 months before turning 65

  • If you are still working, meet with your benefits advisor to find out what happens to your healthcare coverage (through your employer) when you turn 65.
  • Look into Medicare supplement policies.

4 months before turning 65

  • Apply for Social Security, unless you are already collecting retirement benefits.
  • If you are receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare.

3 months before turning 65

  • Understanding Medicare and what you are eligible for, enroll in the program.

Taking these key steps can assist you in this important decision-making process. It may also help protect your retirement budget by trying to control your healthcare expenses.

How to stick to a budget.

  1. Track your spending
  2. Create an outline of your monthly expenses
  3. Understand your debt
  4. Establish a monthly savings goal
  5. Have an emergency fund

Following these 5 basic tips can help you become a better money manager.


January 2016 Episode: Full video (24:44)

  • If I have multiple retirement accounts and have to take multiple required minimum distributions (or RMDs); do I have to take my RMD from one account?
  • Do exchange traded funds (or ETFs) pay capital gains?
  • How do I take my social security benefit properly to get the most out of it?

View this episode to hear answers to these questions, and much more.

Divorcing in 2016? Get your financial affairs in order first.

How should you prepare?

  • Form you team of advocates to help you through the divorce process.
  • Do your financial homework to understand what your assets are. This includes reviewing tax returns, bank statements, investment statements, etc.
  • Make a list of personal property (such as jewelry) including proof of value.
  • Review retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Now is a good time to make necessary beneficiary designation changes.

Ways to help you save in 2016

Consider the following:

  • If you have a child entering college, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.
  • Review your household budget to determine ways to pay down debt and start saving.
  • Develop a retirement plan or contribute to an existing one.
  • Put money into a health savings account (or HSA) plan.

If you have a question or topic you would like us to address on the show, give us a call at 800-220-5433.


December 2015 Episode: Full video (36:25)

Tune in to this episode to make the most sense of your dollars. Viewer questions covered during the show include:

  • How do I check out a charity before I donate?
  • Who do you tip during the holidays? And how much?
  • How can I take advantage of a strong U.S. dollar in 2016?

Market Outlook for 2016

Obviously, it’s hard to predict where the markets are heading and you should not rely on predictions. 2016 is an election year, which according to data are historically pretty good years in the stock market. Another bullish indication is that corporations are well capitalized (as opposed to where they were in 2008). Additionally, we are experiencing low unemployment, wages have increased, and productivity remains level (if not increasing).

It’s always good, even in time of market volatility to go back to what your time horizon is and what your risk tolerance is. It’s also valuable to reevaluate your asset allocation, especially if you have gotten away from your true allocation. Contact the financial advisors at St. Pedro and Associates for help with your personal portfolio.

The holiday season can be a good time to raise important questions and have conversations with your family and loved ones. Consider the following:

  • Do you know where the will is? And is it up to date?
  • What are the final wishes of elders in your family?
  • Are your beneficiaries up to date?

Now is a good time to take a look at important matters you have put off. It’s also an ideal time to be charitable.


November 2015 Episode: Full video (26:09)

What’s changing with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)?

How do you plan for the care of your pets after you pass away?

Is there a cost of living increase for social security recipients in 2016?

Do these sound like interesting topics? View this episode to learn more. If you have a discussion topic, give us a call at 800-220-5433.

End of year financial tasks to consider:

  • Max out your retirement accounts.
  • Make a charitable contribution, whether cash or material items such as clothing.
  • Sit down with your financial advisor to make sure you are on track with your goals.
  • Review your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and use money allocated for 2015.
  • Check your beneficiaries, including those on an individual retirement account (IRA) or a life insurance policy.
  • Take any required minimum distribution from your qualified accounts.
  • Look at your paycheck withholdings and make any needed adjustments.
  • Determine what to do with a former employer’s 401(k) or other retirement plan.
  • Review permanent life insurance policies as they may require some management.

The show wraps up with an insightful discussion on permanent life insurance. Permanent insurance is meant to stay in force for your entire lifetime and can be used in various ways inside a portfolio. It is important to understand a policy before you purchase it. Also, knowing the claims paying ability of the insurance company you go with is key. A good financial advisor can guide you through the selection process.


October 2015 Episode: Full video (26:04)

Financial advisors with St. Pedro & Associates answer viewer questions related to making IRA contributions while on tax extension, what “JTWROS” means on an account statement, when can you claim social security benefits and more.

The main topic is family wealth transfer—planning a thoughtful and effective transfer. Begin by considering who may need your help, or who you may want to have your help, after you pass away. It can be helpful to create a family financial map (similar to the one depicted on the show) to visualize how this will look. Lay it out prior to doing a will and share it with the parties involved. Communication is key, so everyone understands upfront what the plan is. Think about everything you want to leave to your beneficiaries and put it in writing, including life insurance, retirement accounts, non-retirement financial accounts and heirlooms.

Working with a financial planner can assist you in leaving the legacy that you want, determining the best way to transfer wealth to your heirs.


September 2015 Episode: Full video (25:01)

Financial advisors, Joe St. Pedro, David Wood and Rick Storms encourage listeners to send topics they would like addressed on the air and reply to ones they have received. How to protect the identity of a deceased person? What is the Federal PLUS Loan? Will I ever see a decent return on my CDs (certificate of deposits)?

Conversation turns to the principals of sound investing—consistency, courage and balance. A big threat to an investment portfolio is emotion. Maintaining consistency can be supported by sound financial advice, including a review of the funds that work with companies that have the highest earnings and strongest balance sheets. Marketing corrections happen. Maintaining a disciplined perspective often requires that we exercise the principal of courage during times of uncertainty. Diversification across all asset classes prevents investors from chasing last year’s return. It helps to spread risk throughout your portfolio. Remember that neither diversification nor rebalancing can insure a profit.

In conclusion, the advisors share keys to understanding Medicare and using it to your best advantage.


June 2015 Episode: Full video (25:18)

During an information-packed show, Joe St. Pedro, David Wood and Jennifer Jaronski answer financial questions they have received. Are disability insurance benefits taxable? When should I buy long term care insurance and which LTC product is right for me? What options do I have in transferring a 401k plan when changing jobs?

The main discussion focuses on college savings plans and how to plan for college savings in concert with retirement planning. 529 plans tend to be the most used savings vehicles for future college costs, into which anyone can contribute. Some people borrow from their retirement plan; however remember that this is a loan. Other sources of funds include private scholarships and student loans.

The discussion concludes with the importance of having an organized approach to financial records – providing guidance on which records to keep and for how long, ways to organize them, and planning for a significant other to have access to the important records.


May 2015 Episode: Full video (24:59)

Should I rush to pay off my mortgage so I can retire mortgage-free? What is hedging and is it right for the average investor? What impact will the strong U.S. dollar have on the market? Watch this episode as Joseph St. Pedro, David Wood and Rick Storms discuss these topics and more—such as ways to get your finances into shape. Now is a great time to start planning. The fundamentals include, looking closely at your credit card statements and any finance charges, having an emergency fund that is readily available, as well as reviewing your budget and where you are spending your money. Work with a coach or financial advisor to help ensure you keep your plan on track.


March 2015 Episode: Full video (25:07)

Joe St. Pedro and David Wood begin the show answering a range of questions from making insurance claims, to 529 savings plans, to long-term care insurance policies. Special guest Damien M. Petaccio, Funeral Director, covers the sensitive topic of planning for your own funeral and talking with your family ahead of time. He reviews the items to include on a preplanning checklist and then keep in a safe place, as well as the many ways a funeral home will provide assistance.


January 2015 Episode: Full video (24:40)

The financial advisors at St. Pedro & Associates talk about the importance of having a retirement game plan and the key aspects to consider–including qualified, non-qualified, direct deposit, systematic deposits, your time horizon, and much more. They then look to 2015 and some of the things going on economically.