Sunday, November 19, 2017

Looking to Buy a New Car

Our cars are a little over 14 years old.  They are well maintained and still in good shape, but will likely need to be replaced soon.  Also, our needs have changed since we've had two children since our last car purchases.

First, while I enjoy testing driving cars, I do not enjoy negotiating and buying cars.   Second, I am always torn between buying a luxury/sport car or a utilitarian vehicle.  Third, I always like to get a good deal on a car.

So buying a car is generally a stressful time.  However, being armed with knowledge can useful and the Internet is very helpful for getting information.

First,  I am learning what the top rated cars in the class and price range we are considering.  Second, I've learned November through December is when the best deals and incentives occur.  Finally, I've learned that the dealer invoice is no long an accurate estimate of the actual dealer cost, i.e. that it generally doesn't include holdbacks and other manufacturer incentives to the dealer.  Nowadays, a good estimated of dealer's actual cost is around 85% of MSRP.

We've done one round of looking primarily by me.  Now we are doing round two with my spouse and kids.   We are examining possibilities, but are narrowing choices.   I give us a 30% chance of making a purchase in the next few months.

For more on New Beginnings, check back every Sunday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Delaying Income and Advancing Deductions to Take Advantage of Expected Tax Reform

I think it's a good idea to look at the possible impacts of tax reform on our finances.

In my quick review,  I've concluded that I will lose out on deductions but gain on the increased child tax credit and lower tax rate.   Net, I will be slightly ahead and can manage our income stream better to minimize taxes.  In addition, our tax return will be significantly simpler, requiring far less time to do each year.

So for 2017, we will move forward all deduction, e.g. medical expenses, charitable contributions and property tax.   We will delay income such as IRA withdrawals until next year.    In addition, we will increase the amount of income from dividends, since I expect the 0% capital gains tax rate for those in the lowest tax bracket to be maintained.

Of course, YMMV since each individual's situation will be impacted differently by tax reform.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday  for a new segment.

This is not financial or tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Still All Clear for a Market Top

Previously, I posted about my three signals for a market top: 1) Bears capitulating; 2) Beaten down stocks reach 52 week highs; 3) Oil reaches $100/barrel.      First oil is still at about $55/barrel, second stocks such are Under Armour, GE,  and JC Penney are hitting new 52 week lows; and third bears are discouraged, but still bearish.

However, I am still a bit cautious and selling some of my winners to take profits.  In addition, I am shifting my equity weights towards REITs (for guaranteed income), and  international (for higher relative returns).  At this point, I don't think there will be a severe correction or crash will occur in U.S. markets.  Rather international markets will outperform the U.S. and so I am shifting my weightings toward those markets.

Disclosure:  At the time of this post, we owned shares of Under Armour, JC Penney, and GE... unfortunately.

For more on  Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC