Sponsored Post Archives - Newport Dispatch
Category archive

Sponsored Post

Solar and storage workshops coming to Newport

in Newport/News/Sponsored Post

NEWPORT — Do you have a backup source of energy if your power goes out? Have you been seeing your friends and neighbors going solar? If so, there are two upcoming workshops in Newport for you.

Erin Rocheleau, SunCommon’s Community Partnership organizer, will be going over new options for homeowners in Vermont and clueing folks into the latest technology of the Tesla Powerwall 2.0.

The first event will take place at the United Church of Newport, located at 63 3rd Street. It will take place on Saturday, January 26, at 1:00 p.m.

SunCommon now offers Home Energy Storage, which offers the ability to store your solar power for back-up during outages.

When storms hit and the power goes out, your solar and battery work together to keep the essentials of your home running.

No more filling the bathtub with water, no more worrying about your pipes freezing, or needing to get to a hotel as the temperatures drop. No more cleaning out a fridge full of spoiled food.

Homes with solar and storage enjoy the reliability of backup power and support a more reliable and efficient grid for their community.

Come hear about the latest technology in solar and battery storage combinations for homes and businesses.

For more info on the January workshop, email Erin at erin.rocheleau@suncommon.com or call 802-398-7118.

The second event in Newport will take place at the Gateway Center on Friday, February 8, at 11:30 a.m.

Join this group for a complimentary lunch and hear about the benefits of going solar.

Solar incentives for Vermont businesses can help you save up to 50 percent off the cost of your solar array, but these incentives are on the decline. So now is the best time to take advantage of these offers.

To register for this event, call Carrie at 802-398-5696 or email carrie.fenn@suncommon.com.

PC Construction seeking proposals from subcontractors

in Sponsored Post

PC Construction Company is a General Contractor who will be submitting a bid on February 14, 2018 for the Derby Public Safety Building Siding Replacement Project located in Derby, Vermont.

We are actively looking for participation from qualified subcontractors who can perform the following scope(s) of work: carpentry, siding, painting, and electrical.

Specs and Drawings can be viewed online via PC Construction’s private FTP website. Please contact us by phone (802) 651-1233 or email estimating@pcconstruction.com to request an invitation to bid. Hard copy documents can be ordered from Blue Prints etc at 802-865-4503.

PC is willing to negotiate payment terms & conditions on an as-needed basis for a certified M/D WBE owned business to meet their cash flow demands.

Please call for further information if interested.

 PC Construction Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate against race, color, religion, sex, or national origin

Protect Your Retirement Against Market Volatility | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

As an investor, you’re well aware that, over the short term, the financial markets always move up and down. During your working years, you may feel that you have time to overcome this volatility. And you’d be basing these feelings on actual evidence: the longer the investment period, the greater the tendency of the markets to “smooth out” their performance. But what happens when you retire? Won’t you be more susceptible to market movements?

mkt-8275-a-300x250-custYou may not be as vulnerable as you might think. In the first place, given our growing awareness of healthier lifestyles, you could easily spend two, or even three, decades in retirement — so your investment time frame isn’t necessarily going to be that compressed.

Nonetheless, it’s still true that time may well be a more important consideration to you during your retirement years, so you may want to be particularly vigilant about taking steps to help smooth out the effects of market volatility. Toward that end, here are a few suggestions:

• Allocate your investments among a variety of asset classes. Of course, proper asset allocation is a good investment move at any age, but when you’re retired, you want to be especially careful that you don’t “over-concentrate” your investment dollars among just a few assets. Spreading your money among a range of vehicles — stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, government securities and so on —can help you avoid taking the full brunt of a downturn that may primarily hit just one type of investment. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can help reduce the effects of volatility, it can’t assure a profit or protect against loss.)

• Choose investments that have demonstrated solid performance across many market cycles. As you’ve probably heard, “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” and this is true. Nonetheless, you can help improve your outlook by owning quality investments. So when investing n stocks, choose those that have actual earnings and a track record of earnings growth. If you invest in fixed-income vehicles, pick those that are considered “investment grade.”

• Don’t make emotional decisions. At various times during your retirement, you will, in all likelihood, witness some sharp drops in the market. Try to avoid overreacting to these downturns, which will probably just be normal market “corrections.” If you can keep your emotions out of investing, you will be less likely to make moves such as selling quality investments merely because their price is temporarily down.

• Don’t try to “time” the market. You may be tempted to “take advantage” of volatility by looking for opportunities to “buy low and sell high.” In theory, this is a fine idea — but, unfortunately, no one can really predict market highs or lows. You’ll probably be better off by consistently investing the same amount of money into the same investments. Over time, this method of investing may result in lower per-share costs. However, as is the case with diversification, this type of “systematic” investing won’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss, and you’ll need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.

It’s probably natural to get somewhat more apprehensive about market volatility during your retirement years. But taking the steps described above can help you navigate the sometimes-choppy waters of the financial world.

Women Business Owners Need Retirement Plans | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

If you’re a woman who owns a small business, you’ve got plenty of company. In fact, women own more than 10 million U.S. companies, and women-owned businesses account for about 40% of all privately held firms in the U.S., according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. Clearly, the good news is that women like you are entering the small-business arena at a rapid pace. The not-so-good news is that you may be facing a retirement savings gap in comparison to male business owners.

mkt-8275-a-300x250-custTo get a sense of this gap, consider these statistics:

• According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, 19.4% of male business owners have 401(k) or similar plans, compared with just 15.5% of women owners.

• The percentage of female business owners with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) is about the same as that of male business owners — but the men have more money in their accounts. The average woman’s IRA balance is about $51,000, compared with $91,000 for men, according to a recent report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Although these figures change constantly with the ebbs and flow of the market, the difference between the genders remains significant.

One way to help close this savings gap, of course, is to set up a retirement plan for your business. But for many women business owners (and male owners, too), the perceived cost of setting up and running a retirement plan has been an obstacle. However, the retirement plan market has opened up considerably for small business owners over the past several years, so you might be surprised at the ease and inexpensiveness of administering a quality plan that can help you build resources for your own retirement — and help you attract and retain good employees.

With the help of a financial professional, you can consider some of the myriad of plans that may be available to you:

• Owner-only 401(k) — This plan, which is also known as an individual 401(k), is available to self-employed individuals and business owners with no full-time employees other than themselves or a spouse. You may even be able to choose a Roth option for your 401(k), which allows you to make after-tax contributions that can grow tax-free.

• SEP IRA — If you have just a few employees or are self-employed with no employees, you may want to consider a SEP IRA. You’ll fund the plan with tax-deductible contributions, and you must cover all eligible employees.

• Solo defined benefit plan — Pension plans, also known as defined benefit plans, are still around — and you can set one up for yourself if you are self-employed or own your own business. This plan has high contribution limits, which are determined by an actuarial calculation, and as is the case with other retirement plans, your contributions are typically tax-deductible.

• SIMPLE IRA — A SIMPLE IRA, as its name suggests, is easy to set up and maintain, and it can be a good plan if your business has fewer than 10 employees. Still, while a SIMPLE IRA may be advantageous for your employees, it’s less generous to you, as far as allowable contributions, than an owner-only 401(k), a SEP IRA or a defined benefit plan.

As a business owner, you spend a lot of time thinking about what needs to be done today, but you don’t want to forget about tomorrow — so consider putting a retirement plan to work for you soon.

Is Your Portfolio “Healthy”? | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. If you can exercise regularly, you’ll help yourself feel better, control your weight and even reduce the chances of developing certain diseases. But why not extend the concept of “fitness” to other areas of your life – such as your investment portfolio?

And to help maintain a healthy portfolio, you can draw on some of the same principles that apply to keeping your body in good shape.

mkt-8275-a-300x250-custConsider, for example, one of the things that happen when you exercise – namely, your body uses more oxygen. As an investor, you may need your portfolio to get “oxygen” in the form of infusions of new investment dollars. If you stop putting money into your portfolio, you’ll need to rely on your existing investments to grow enough to help you meet your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. Could that happen? Maybe, but you will likely be better off by investing consistently, year after year. And by spreading your contributions over a period of decades, you don’t have to come up with large sums at any one time.

Another element important to exercise is the need to avoid injury. That’s why all sorts of athletes, both competitive and casual, stretch before they swing into action. Many of them also take other injury-avoidance steps, such as strengthening their “core” through abdominal work and increasing their flexibility through yoga. When you invest, you can be “injured” if your portfolio takes a hit during a market downturn. However, this type of injury will likely be much more severe if your portfolio is over-concentrated in just one asset class and the downturn primarily affects those exact assets. But if you own many different types of assets – stocks, bonds, government securities, and so on – you may reduce the impact of a downturn on your portfolio. Keep in mind, though, that this type of diversification can’t guarantee profits or help you avoid all losses.

While exercise is essential to maintaining good health, it isn’t the only factor involved. You should also get regular checkups with a medical professional, who can run various tests to measure changes in cholesterol, blood pressure, heart function and other areas. To help ensure your portfolio is healthy, you also need to chart its progress over time. And that doesn’t just mean determining if you’re getting the growth you need, though that’s obviously of great interest to you. You also need to evaluate whether your portfolio has gotten out of balance, which can occur without your doing anything at all. To illustrate: If you start out with a certain percentage of one type of investment, such as stocks, and these stocks grow to a point where they now take up a bigger share of your portfolio, you may be taking on more risk than you had intended.

Consequently, you should review your portfolio at least once a year to evaluate both its performance and its balance. Once you’ve compared where you are today with where you were a year ago, you’ll be in a better position to make appropriate changes if needed.

Do what it takes to keep yourself physically fit – but also take steps to ensure your investment portfolio is in good shape. It’s vitally important to your future – and you can do the work without even breaking a sweat.

Time for Some Financial Spring Cleaning | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year, as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning?

mkt-8275-a-300x250-custActually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:

• Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home. Your investment portfolio is also a structure of a sort, and it, too, can be damaged. Specifically, you may have deliberately constructed your portfolio with an investment mix – stocks, fixed-income vehicles, cash instruments, etc. – that’s appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance. But over time, your portfolio can evolve in unexpected ways. For example, your stocks may have grown so much in value that they now take up a larger percentage of your holdings than you had intended, possibly subjecting you to a higher degree of risk. If this happens, you may need to rebalance your portfolio.

• Get rid of “clutter.” As you look around your home, do you see three mops or four nonfunctional televisions or a stack of magazines from the 1990s? If these items no longer have value, you could get rid of them and clear up some living space. As an investor, you also might have “clutter” – in the form of investments that no longer meet your needs. If you sold these investments, you could use the proceeds to fill gaps in your portfolio.

• Consolidate. Do you keep your lawnmower in a shed, a rake in your garage, and your gardening tools in the basement? When working on your outdoor tasks, you might find it more efficient to have all these items in one location. You could also have your investments scattered about – an IRA here, a new 401(k) there, and an older 401(k) someplace else. But if you consolidated all your investments in one place, you might cut down on paperwork and fees, and you wouldn’t risk losing track of an asset (which actually happens more than you might think). Even more importantly, when you have all your investments with one provider, you’ll be better positioned to follow a single, centralized investment strategy.

• Prepare for a rainy day. As part of your outdoor spring cleaning, you may want to look at your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and in good repair, so that they can move rainwater away from your home. Your financial goals need protection, too, so you’ll want to ensure you have adequate life and disability insurance.

• Seal leaks. In your home inspection this spring, you may want to investigate doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Your investment portfolio might have some “leaks” also. Are investment-related taxes siphoning off more of your earnings than you realize? A financial professional can offer you recommendations for appropriate tax-advantaged investments.

This spring, when you’re cleaning your physical surroundings, take some time to also tidy up your financial environment. You may be pleased with the results.

Dr. Don Harris | The Epidemic of Obesity and the Hormone Insulin

in Sponsored Post

Dr. Don Harris, of Harris Integrative Health & Nutrition located in Newport, works to combine the best of traditional health care, with more alternative treatments. His show airs on Channel 17.

In this episode he talks about how weight loss isn’t about calories in vs. calories out anymore. It’s about hormones in your body being out of balance or dysfunctional. No matter how hard you try and lose fat, it just won’t happen until your body chemistry is in balance and your cells are responding to them.

What’s Smarter – Paying Off Debts or Investing? | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

If you’re just starting out in your career, you will need to be prepared to face some financial challenges along the way – but here’s one that’s not unpleasant: choosing what to do with some extra disposable income. When this happens, what should you do with the money? Your decisions could make a real difference in your ability to achieve your important financial goals.

Under what circumstances might you receive some “found” money? You could get a year-end bonus from your employer, or a sizable tax refund, or even an inheritance. However the money comes to you, don’t let it “slip through your fingers.” Instead, consider these two moves: investing the money or using it to pay off debts.

Which of these choices should you pick? There’s no one “right” answer, as everyone’s situation is different. But here are a few general considerations:

• Distinguish between “good” and “bad” debt. Not all types of debt are created equal. Your mortgage, for example, is probably a “good” form of debt. You’re using the loan for a valid purpose – i.e., living in your house – and you likely get a hefty tax deduction for the interest you pay. On the other hand, nondeductible consumer debt that carries a high interest rate might be considered “bad” debt – and this is the debt you might want to reduce or eliminate when you receive some extra money. By doing so, you can free up money to save and invest for retirement or other goals.

• Compare making extra mortgage payments vs. investing. Many of us get some psychological benefits by making extra house payments. Yet, when you do have some extra money, putting it toward your house may not be the best move. For one thing, as mentioned above, your mortgage can be considered a “good” type of debt, so you may not need to rush to pay it off. And from an investment standpoint, your home is somewhat “illiquid” – it’s not always easy to get money out of it. If you put your extra money into traditional investments, such as stocks and bonds, you may increase your growth potential, and you may gain an income stream through interest payments and dividends.

• Consider tax advantages of investing. Apart from your mortgage, your other debts likely won’t provide you with any tax benefits. But you can get tax advantages by putting money into certain types of investment vehicles, such as a traditional or Roth IRA. When you invest in a traditional IRA, your contributions may be deductible, depending on your income, and your money grows on a tax-deferred basis. (Keep in mind that taxes will be due upon withdrawals, and any withdrawals you make before you reach 59½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty.) Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but your earnings are distributed tax-free, provided you don’t take withdrawals until you reach 59½ and you’ve had your account at least five years.

Clearly, you’ve got some things to ponder when choosing whether to use “extra” money to pay off debts or invest. Of course, it’s not always an “either-or” situation; you may be able to tackle some debts and still invest for the future. In any case, use this money wisely – you weren’t necessarily counting on it, but you can make it count for you.

Term vs. Permanent Insurance: Which Is Right for You? | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

What’s your most valuable asset? While you are still working, this asset may actually be your future income — so you need to protect it. And you can do so by maintaining adequate life insurance, which can help provide your family with the financial resources necessary to meet critical expenses — such as mortgage payments, college tuition, and so on — should you pass away prematurely. But what type of insurance should you purchase? There’s no one “right” answer for everyone, but by knowing some of the basics of different polices and how they relate to your specific needs, you can make an informed decision.

As its name suggests, term insurance is designed to last for a specific time period, such as five, 10 or 20 years. You pay the premiums and you get a death benefit — that is, the beneficiaries of your policy will collect the money when you pass away. In general, term insurance may be appropriate for you if you only need coverage to protect a goal with an “end date,” such as paying off your mortgage or seeing your children through college. Term insurance may also be a reasonable choice if you need a lot of coverage but can’t afford permanent insurance.

Why is permanent insurance more costly than term? Because, with permanent insurance, your premiums don’t just get you a death benefit — they also provide you with the potential opportunity to build cash value. Some types of permanent insurance may pay you a fixed rate of return, while other policies offer you the chance to put money into accounts similar to investments available through the financial markets. These variable accounts will fluctuate in value more than a fixed-rate policy, so you will need to take your risk tolerance into account when choosing among the available permanent insurance choices.

Permanent insurance may be suitable if you want to ensure a guaranteed death benefit for life, rather than just for a certain time period. Permanent insurance may also be the right choice if you have a high net worth and are seeking tax-advantaged ways of transferring wealth.

Still, you may have heard that you might be better off by “buying term and investing the difference” — that is, pay the less costly premiums for term insurance and use the savings to invest in the financial markets. However, this strategy assumes you will invest the savings rather than spend them, and it also assumes you will receive an investment return greater than the growth potential you receive from permanent insurance. Both assumptions are just that: assumptions, not guarantees. If you are considering the “buy term and invest the difference” route, you will need both a consistent investment discipline and a willingness to take a greater risk with your money, in hopes of higher returns.

In any case, your financial professional can review your situation with you and help you determine whether term or permanent insurance is best suited for your needs. But don’t delay. If you have even one other person depending on your income to maintain his or her lifestyle, you need to be covered — and once you are, you’ll consider those premium dollars to be well spent.

Consider Some New Year’s (Financial) Resolutions | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

We’re just about ready to open the door to 2017, so you might be thinking about some New Year’s resolutions. What’s on your list this year? More visits to the gym? Learning a new language? Mastering the perfect beef bourguignon? All worthy ambitions, of course, but why not also include some financial resolutions?

By reviewing your needs and goals, you can identify some resolutions that are particularly relevant to your own situation. But here are a few suggestions:

• Build an emergency fund. If you needed a major car repair or a new furnace, or faced some other large, unanticipated expense, could you cope with it? If you didn’t have the money readily available, you might have to dip into those investments intended for long-term goals, such as retirement. Instead, build an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, kept in a liquid, low-risk account.

• Cut down on debts. It’s not easy to cut down on one’s debt load. But if you can find ways to reduce your debts, you’ll help improve your overall financial picture. Many debts are not “useful” – that is, they don’t carry any tax advantages – so every dollar you spend to pay down those debts is a dollar you could use to invest for your future.

• Boost contributions to your retirement plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, take full advantage of it. Your earnings have the potential to grow tax deferred and your contributions may lower your taxable income. Plus, most plans offer a selection of investment options, so you can choose the investment mix that fits your objectives and risk tolerance. Therefore, if your salary goes up this year, or if you think you can find other ways to free up some money, increase your contributions to your retirement plan.

• Review your portfolio. Is your investment portfolio still on track toward helping you meet your long-term goals? If not, you may need to make some changes. You’ll also want to study your investment mix to make sure it still accurately reflects your risk tolerance. Over time, and often without your taking any significant actions, your portfolio can “drift” to a place where you are taking on too much risk – or even too little risk – for your needs and long-term objectives. If this happens, you may need to “rebalance” your holdings.

• Avoid mistakes. None of us can avoid all mistakes, in life and in our investment activities. But as an investor, you’ll clearly benefit from minimizing your errors. For example, it’s generally a mistake to jump out of the market in response to a period of volatility. If you wait for things to “calm down” before investing again, you might miss out on the opportunity to participate in the next market rally.

• Think long term. Keep this in mind: You’re not investing for today or tomorrow, but for many years from now. Try to keep a long-term focus when making all your key investment decisions. By doing so, you can avoid overreacting to short-term developments, such as a sudden drop in the market or a “momentous” political event that actually decreases in importance as time goes by.

Try to follow these financial resolutions as best as you can. You could make 2017 a year to remember.

Sponsored Post: Merry Christmas video from Lapierre’s Decorating Center in Newport

in Sponsored Post

From Lapierre’s Decorating Center in Newport:

“We would like to thank our customers for their patronage this year and look forward to being there for you in 2017 for all your home improvements. Merry Christmas to all and thank you for shopping local.”

On sale now Christmas ornamants 25%.

Located at 378 East Main Street in Newport.

Here’s Your Retirement “To Do” List | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

At this time of year, your life is probably more hectic than usual – so you may have assembled an impressive “to do” list. This can be a helpful tool for organizing your activities in the near future – but have you ever thought of developing a “to do” list for long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement? If not, you may want to think about it – and here are a few list-worthy items to consider:

mkt-8275-a-300x250-cust• Examine – and re-examine – your planned retirement age. You may have long counted on retiring at a certain age, but are you sure that this goal is the best one for your overall financial situation? Think about it: If you like your job, and you stayed at it for just a few more years, you could significantly boost the funds in your 401(k) or other retirement plan, and you might even be able to delay taking Social Security, which, in turn, would result in larger monthly payments.

• Put a “price tag” on your retirement lifestyle. When you retire, do you want to travel the world or stay at home pursuing your hobbies? Will you truly retire from all types of work, or will you do some consulting or take up part-time employment? Once you know what your retirement lifestyle might look like, you can better estimate your costs and expenses – and this knowledge will help you determine how much you need to withdraw each year from your various retirement accounts, such as your IRA, 401(k) or other employer-based plan.

• Be aware of retirement plan withdrawal rules. It isn’t enough just to recognize how much you need to withdraw from your retirement plans – you also must know how much you must withdraw. Once you turn 70 ½, you generally have to start taking money out of your traditional IRA and 401(k). These required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are based on your account balance, age and other factors, but the key word to remember is “required” – if you don’t withdraw the full amount of the RMD by the applicable deadline, the amount not withdrawn can be taxed at a 50% rate.

• Review your health care situation. When you turn 65, you will likely be eligible for Medicare, but you’ll want to become familiar with what it does – and doesn’t – cover, so you can establish an annual health care budget. And if you are planning to retire early, which might mean losing your employer-sponsored health insurance, you will need to be prepared for potentially large out-of-pocket costs.

•  Think about long-term care. One service that Medicare doesn’t cover – or, at best, covers only minimally – is long-term care. If you faced an extended stay in a nursing home, the costs could be catastrophic. A financial professional may be able to help you find a way to reduce this risk.

• Develop your estate plans. Estate planning can be complex, involving many different documents – such as a will, a living trust, power of attorney, etc. – so you’ll want to work with a legal professional to ensure you’re making the right choices for yourself and your family.

By checking off these items, one by one, your retirement “to do” list will eventually get “done.” And when that happens, you may find yourself pretty well prepared to enjoy life as a retiree.

Should You Work with a Financial Professional? | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

When you make investment decisions, you’ve got a lot of factors to evaluate: corporate earnings, economic climate, interest rates, oil prices and so on. In fact, navigating the investment world can seem like a daunting task if you’re going it alone. So make it easier on yourself — and get the help you need.

mkt-8275-a-300x250-custSpecifically, consider working with a financial professional. When you do, you may become a better investor, and you will almost certainly gain a broader perspective.

For starters, a financial professional can help you quantify your goals. You might know that you want to retire at age 60, buy a vacation home and spend your time pursuing your hobbies — but do you know how much retirement income you’ll need to attain this lifestyle? And do you know what sort of return you’ll require from your investments to provide you with this income?

A qualified financial professional has the tools and experience to help you answer these and other key questions. And if you wanted to explore several different retirement possibilities, your financial advisor could illustrate what you’d need to do, and how you’d need to invest, to work toward your desired outcomes.

At the same time, a financial professional might be able to help you avoid making some potentially costly mistakes. Suppose, for instance, that you get a “tip” on a “hot” stock from a friend, relative or neighbor. On your own, you might be tempted to invest in this stock. But if you work with a qualified financial professional, you would learn that by the time you buy a hot stock, it might already be cooling off. Even more importantly, a financial professional might tell you that the stock in question really isn’t suitable for your individual situation.

Furthermore, once a financial professional is familiar with your needs, risk tolerance and time horizon, he or she can help tailor an investment portfolio for you. And through regular reviews, your financial advisor can help you stay diversified, which can help you weather the market’s ups and downs.

Because it’s their business, financial professionals stay current on changing tax laws and investment rules — and this knowledge can pay off for you. For example, you might not have known that your 401(k) contribution limits went up in 2015 — but your financial professional likely did.

Finding the Right Professional

Clearly, it can be to your advantage to use a financial professional. But how do you find the right one? Here are some questions to ask of candidates:

• What are your credentials? Make sure a prospective financial advisor has the appropriate securities registrations.

• How are you paid? Financial advisors are paid through fees or commissions, or a combination of both. One way isn’t necessarily “better” than another, but it’s important for you to know the system of compensation being used.

• How will you communicate with me? Find out when you’ll receive statements and how often you’ll meet in person to review your portfolio.

• What is your investment philosophy? Different financial advisors have different ways of approaching the investment process. You will need to find someone whose philosophy feels like a good fit for you.

Finding the right financial professional for your needs can take some time — but it’s worth the effort.

Vote for Smart Investment Moves | Financial Focus with Karen Ward

in Sponsored Post

The presidential election is little more than a month away. Like all elections, this one has generated considerable in- terest, and, as a citizen, you may well be following it closely. But as an investor, how much should you be concerned about the outcome?

mkt-8275-a-300x250-custProbably not as much as you might think. Historically, the financial markets have done well – and done poorly – under both Democratic and Republican ad- ministrations. Also, many factors affecting investment performance have little or nothing to do with the occupant of the White House. Consequently, no one can claim, with any certainty, that one candi- date is going to be “better for the markets” than another one.

Still, this isn’t to say that any given presidential administration will have no effect at all on investors. For example, a president could propose changes to the laws governing investments, and if Congress passes those laws, investors could be affected.

But in looking at the broader picture, there’s not much evidence that a particular president is going to affect the overall return of your investment portfolio. As men- tioned above, many factors – corporate earnings, interest rates, foreign affairs, even natural disasters – can and will influence the financial markets. But in evaluating a president’s potential effect on your investments, you also need to consider something else: Our political system does not readily accommodate radical restructuring of any kind. So it’s difficult for any president to implement huge policy shifts – and that’s actually good for the financial markets, which, by their nature, dislike uncertainty, chaos and big changes.

The bottom line? From your viewpoint as an investor, don’t worry too much about what happens in November. Instead, follow these investment strategies:

• Stay invested. If you stop investing when the market is down in an effort to cut your losses, you may miss the opportunity to participate in the next rally – and the early stages of a rally are typically when the biggest gains occur.

• Diversify. By spreading your dollars among an array of investments, such as stocks, bonds and other investments, you can help reduce the possibility of your portfolio taking a big hit if a market downturn primarily affected just one type of financial asset. Keep in mind though, that diversification can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.

• Stay within your risk tolerance. In- vesting always involves risk, but you’ll probably be more successful (and less stressed out) if you don’t stray beyond your individual risk tolerance. At the same time, if you invest too conservatively, you might not achieve the growth potential you need to reach your goals. So you will need to strike an appropriate balance.

• Forget about chasing “hot” stocks. Many so-called “experts” encourage people to invest in today’s “hot” stocks. But by the time you hear about them, these stocks – if they were ever “hot” to begin with – have probably already cooled off. More importantly, they might not have been suitable for your needs, anyway. In any case, there’s really no “short cut” to investment success.

Elections – and even presidents – come and go. But when you “vote” for solid in- vestment moves, you can help yourself make progress toward your financial goals.

[VIDEO] Tour 3362 Lake Road Newport, Vermont | Jim Campbell Real Estate

in Sponsored Post

From the time you walk through the door, you’ll fall in love with this magnificent architecturally designed lakefront home.

Situated on 3.5 acres of manicured grounds with over 280′ of lake frontage, this is a “one of a kind” home on one of Vermont’s most prestigious International lakes.

You’ll enjoy sailing, boating, fishing and so much more.

This home offers in excess of 8, 000 sq. ft. of finished living space with 4 bedrooms, 4 full & 2 half baths and a grand living area overlooking the water.

Custom features include the wrap around stairway to the 2nd level, fully designed kitchen with top of the line granite, all tiled baths, radiant heat and so much more.

Walk out lower level offers a family room, bedroom with private bath, a crafts room and a heated garage/workshop.

Minutes to one of Vermont’s premier ski mountains (Jay Peak). 90 minutes to Montreal, 3.5 hrs to Boston, 4 hrs from Hartford, 6 hrs from New York City.

  • CCR1.jpg
  • 4453161-2.jpg
  • 4453161-3.jpg
  • 4453161-4.jpg
  • 4453161.jpg

Conley Country Real Estate | 230 Main Street | Derby, Vermont

in Sponsored Post

Quality main street Derby home. Buster Huckins built in 1940; 1986 addition. 4 car garage originally built to house state plow trucks.

output_1P5tcr

Walkup room above. State certified re-insulation throughout home. High-end Appliances: electric/gas chef range; Samsung Refrigerator. microwave/convection oven.

Meticulously maintained home has an extra large family room with gas fireplace, separate living and dining rooms with a bonus 4-season sitting porch. Large, separate master suite. Downstairs bedroom with 1/2 bath. Back-up generator in place.

Workshops in basement with 9′ ceilings. Immediate occupancy in this charming, well-appointed Derby home.

Directions: Diagonally across from historic Conley Country Real Estate and Insurance office.

Price: $199,900

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

243 Leadville Road, Newport Town | Jim Campbell Real Estate

in Sponsored Post

What a setting. This contemporary/chalet style home is nestled in the woods, on 10 acres of land, in Newport Center and offers so much for the money.

Enjoy deeded access to Lake Memphremagog via a shared right of way, beautiful views of the lake from the decks and complete privacy in a wooded setting. Beautifully decorated 2700 square feet of finished living space and a lovely in ground pool & patio area, perfect home for entertaining.

Close to town amenities, short walking distance to the lake, 20 minutes to skiing, access to snowmobiling and more.

For more info click here.

Listed by Ryan Pronto of Jim Campbell Real Estate.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.57.34 AM

Half of Americans are facing a tough retirement: Don’t be one of them

in Sponsored Post

ZN3A9864-2_FotorBy David W. Thompson

One disturbing statistic revealed in the Federal Reserve’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households” is that nearly half of Americans have not done much financial planning for their retirement. Specifically, 24% of respondents reported doing “very little” planning and another 25% said they had done no planning at all.

If you are among this 49%, there is no better time than now to get started. Here are some steps you can take right now to get the ball rolling:

Figure Out Where You Stand

If you have little or no retirement savings of your own, this part is easy. You just need to figure out how much income in retirement you can expect from other sources.

Social Security is (for now) the universal source of retirement income. You can get a rough estimate of what to expect on the Social Security Administration’s website (www.ssa.gov). There might be significant changes in the program between now and when you retire, so it’s a good idea to reevaluate every few years to make sure you are still on track.

Plus, if you have a retirement plan such as a 401K from your employer, you need to account for that as well. Most 401K type plans offer some kind of benefit-forecasting tool you can use to estimate how much you can expect to get each year in retirement. If not, there are online calculators (www.bankrate.com) to help you estimate your 401K retirement income.

Determine What You’ll Need

As a general rule, experts say you will need about 80% of your pre-retirement income to sustain your lifestyle in retirement. This is not a set-in-stone rule. You’re actual income needs might be greater or smaller, but it is a good place to start.

So if you make $100,000 per year right before you retire, you should plan to need $80,000 per year from all your retirement sources, including social security, employer sponsored 401K and your own savings and investments.

If you’re still quite a long way from retirement, it can be impossible to predict what your earnings might be by the time you retire. A pretty decent guideline, is to take your current salary and add 3% per year for every year you plan to keep working. This 3% increase accounts for cost-of-living increases and annual raises, of course you can adjust this upward or downward as you see fit. You do not need to be too precise here. You simply want to get a good idea of what you’ll need.

So How Much Do You Need

According to the often cited “4% rule” of retirement, you can reasonably expect your money to outlive you if you withdraw 4% of your retirement savings during the first year and then adjust upward for inflation in subsequent years.

If you have a good idea of your needs in retirement, take that number and subtract all other sources of retirement income, then multiply the result by 25 to figure out how much you need to save personally in order to meet your income goal.

Adjust Your Goals For Your Life

As you can see, there is no uniform approach to retirement savings. Some people can live comfortably on half of their pre-retirement income, while others may need 100% to feel comfortable and fulfilled.

Whatever your individual retirement goals may be there is no better time than the present to get started. So take control of your financial future today.

This sponsored post was written by David W. Thompson, MSAA. He is the principal agent and financial advisor of Thompson Insurance & Financial Services. He has been working in the insurance and financial services for over 15 years helping Vermonters to secure their future. For more information please visit us at: www.thompsonvt.com

Securities offered through and supervised by Wilbanks Securities, Inc. Member FINRA & SIPC.
4334 NW Expressway, Suite 222 Oklahoma City, OK 73116. 1-888-842-0202.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3_Fotor

Asset Allocation – A Sound Investment Strategy

in Sponsored Post

ZN3A9864-2_Fotor By David W. Thompson

In today’s complex financial markets, you have an impressive array of investment vehicles from which to select. Each investment also carries some risk, making it important to choose wisely if you are selecting just one.

The good news is that there’s no rule that says you must stick with only one type of investment. In fact, you can potentially lower your investment risk and increase your chances of meeting your investment goals by practicing “asset allocation.”

Asset allocation refers to the way you weight diverse investments in your portfolio in order to try to meet a specific objective. For instance, if your goal is to pursue growth (and you are willing to take on market risk in order to do so), you may decide to place 20% of your assets in bonds and 80% in stocks.

The asset classes you choose, and how you weight your investment in each, will probably hinge on your investment time frame and how that matches with the risks and rewards of each asset class; stocks, bonds and money markets.

Before exploring just how you can put an asset allocation strategy to work to help you meet your investment goals, you should first understand how diversification works hand in hand with asset allocation.

Diversification simply is the process of helping reduce risk by investing in several different types of individual funds or securities. When you diversify your investments among more than one security, you help reduce what is known as “single-security risk,” or the risk that your investment will fluctuate widely in value with the price of one holding.

Diversifying among several asset classes increases the chances that, if and when the return of one investment is falling, the return of another in your portfolio may be rising, thus leveling out the big peaks and valleys (though there are no guarantees). Neither asset allocation nor diversification guarantee against market loss.

Points to Remember:

Asset allocation is the way in which you spread your investment portfolio among different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, stock mutual funds, and bond mutual funds.

When prices of different types of assets do not move in tandem, combining these investments in a portfolio can help reduce the variability of returns, commonly known as “market risk.”

Mutual funds are pools of securities, usually offering diversification within a single asset class. Some mutual funds may include several asset classes.

The asset allocation that is right for you depends on your investment time frame and risk tolerance.
As your investment time frame and goals change, so might your asset allocation. Many financial experts suggest reevaluating your asset allocation periodically or whenever you experience a milestone event in your life such as a marriage, the birth of a child or retirement.

This sponsored post was written by David W. Thompson, MSAA. He is the principal agent and financial advisor of Thompson Insurance & Financial Services. He has been working in the insurance and financial services for over 15 years helping Vermonters to secure their future. For more information please visit him at: www.thompsonvt.com

Securities offered through and supervised by Wilbanks Securities, Inc. Member FINRA & SIPC.
4334 NW Expressway, Suite 222 Oklahoma City, OK 73116. 1-888-842-0202.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3_Fotor

Featured Local Real Estate: 911 Lake Road

in Sponsored Post

Panorama1

This sponsored post is provided by Big Bear Real Estate.

This 4 bedroom 2 bath custom built home is where you can live only minutes from Lake Memphremagog and Jay Peak Ski area. Tucked away on a private drive with a paved driveway leading to your professional landscaping and irrigation system. Stone patio with wrap around porches are great for entertaining.

06

Large detached garage for your boat, snowmobiles, golf cart for ample storage. VAST trail located at edge of property. 12.5 acres with berry bushes, sloping hills for sliding and areas for gardening.

011_Fotor

Light and airy family room with cathedral ceilings and attention to detail. Views of Lake Memphremagog await you with perhaps some clearing of a few trees. Mahogany executive office, 2 stall garage, finished basement and the list goes on.

016_Fotor

Warm up by the fireplace and enjoy the ambiance of this home with surround sound and relax. A great home for family and friends.

photo_Fotor

2012 Spring Bear_Fotor

Letter to the Editor: James Lillicrap

in Sponsored Post

DSC_9769 copyDear Members of the Community:

My name is James Craig Lillicrap, and I am one of the three remaining candidates for Orleans County State’s Attorney. I was born here, went to Sacred Heart, U.V.M. and Vermont Law School. My mother ran the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice for over 45 years, and my wife works for them now. My father ran a trucking business. My grandparents Bill and Marguerite Lillicrap, and Ernest and Edna Nason, were well known locally.

I am the only one of the remaining candidates that can say I live here, own property here, pay taxes here, vote here, and send my children to school here. I am the only one who can say, I not only promise to support the community, but I have done so for decades. I am the only one of the remaining candidates that can say that even my campaign materials have been exclusively purchased locally from the Memphremagog Press. Support the candidate that supports you.

I, also am the only remaining candidate whose work has been, and is an open book. I have over 400 articles in local papers concerning my work. Each candidate is asking that you commit to pay them about $380,000.00 over the next four years. I ask you, the voters, why you should hire someone whose work you have not seen? Would you purchase a tract of land you never looked at, or a car you had never driven?

Jennifer has less than three years as an attorney, Ben a little over 7. I have almost 10 times Jennifer’s experience, and over 3 times Ben’s experience. Over almost 25 years, I have handled over 35,000 proceedings. I have a track record of putting serious repeat offenders behind bars. Many of these have been put in prison for life, and will not harm anyone again.

I have worked with local law enforcement, and they respect my work. I, also, have the endorsement of Senator Bobby Starr who has supported this community for the 30 years I have known him. I have the endorsement of Carl B. Davis, Director of Orleans County Probation and Parole. He has over a decade of experience keeping Orleans County safe.

lilli

I have letters attesting to my qualities as a prosecutor from Lieutenant Kirk Cooper (V.S.P. Derby former Commander), Detective Jennifer Harlow, and although not an endorsement, a letter from Keith Flynn. I, also, have letters from actual victims I have worked with supporting my candidacy.

Patrick McGinley, brother of Peggy Moran, and a supervising prosecutor for 30 years wrote:

“At all times (and they were frequent) when attorney Lillicrap was contacted by my nieces and nephews, and myself, he was the consummate gentleman. At all times he treated Art and Peggy’s children, as he did me, with courtesy, compassion and respect. James Lillicrap possesses those attributes and characteristics that we desire and deserve in a State’s Attorney. He is dedicated, compassionate, intelligent and highly experienced. The voters of Orleans County will do well by themselves to elect him as the State’s Attorney of the County in the upcoming November election. I urge you to do so.”

As Orleans County State’s Attorney, Keith Flynn wrote:

“One of Jim’s many positive attributes is his awareness and commitment to professional ethics and his desire to seek justice and “do the right thing.” I have found that this commitment transcends all that he does and is evident not only in his interactions with the lawyers he practices with but also with Courts he appears before.

Jim enjoys his interaction with victims of crimes and is empathetic and at the same time professional during those interactions. In my opinion again, those attributes speak volumes about the skills of a prosecutor and his or her dedication and commitment to the task at hand.”

Ask the front line officers who has handled their cases, and who they have preferred handle their cases. I have been asked on a regular basis to take over cases from existing prosecutors. As a State’s Attorney, I will have the authority to do so.

I have not lost a single jury trial. Based on nine trials I found published in the Bennington Banner, Jennifer Barrett has lost 3 out of every 4 trials she has completed. Based on a sample of 213 charged offenses, from the same source, Ms. Barrett dismissed 158 of them. Some of them were dismissed on the day of trial. It appears as though in Ms. Barrett’s case that the voters should not make a purchase sight unseen.

This is not a race about political lines. It is a race about community values. Elect the person that has supported you. Elect the person you know. Don’t be taken in by empty promises, and don’t purchase what you haven’t seen.

Go to Top