Blog 151

Just say NO!

By: Tim O’Pry | Chief Security Officer Another day, another few hundred million accounts compromised. Facebook is the most recent (as of late March 2019). This problem has become so common place that it hardly qualifies as news. What is different about this one is that it wasn’t criminals who broke into Facebook and obtained the data.

Blog 157

Henssler Financial Experts Earn Exit Planning Designation

MARCH 2019. KENNESAW, Ga.— Henssler Financial is proud to announce that Managing Associate K.C. Smith, CFP®, and Research Analyst Nick Antonucci, CVA, have earned the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) designation after completing The Exit Planning Institute’s intensive four-day executive MBA-style program. Smith and Antonucci join an elite group of business advisers who have received this designation and are a part of the Exit Planning Institute’s international community of CEPAs.

Blog 160

Key Financial Ratios for Small-Business Owners

Financial ratios are used to measure a business’s condition and performance. They can help you evaluate your organization’s financial status and rate of success. They are also used by those evaluating your business for potential investment or lending opportunities. Generally speaking, there are four categories of financial ratios: liquidity, profitability, activity, and leverage. Your balance…

Blog 161

Seniors Who No Longer Itemize May Benefit from Using QCDs

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP® explains how a qualified charitable distribution can provide a significant savings over giving to charity after tax, as charitable deductions are “below the line” deductions. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a…

Blog 164

Proxy Season Primer: Why Corporate Elections Matter to Investors

Investors who own shares of common stock have the right to vote in elections on certain corporate matters. Election outcomes can help determine the company’s short- and long-term profitability, and ultimately the stock price. The spring proxy season (generally April through June) is when many publicly traded corporations hold annual shareholder meetings. A smaller number…

Blog 178

Who is Watching Whom?

By: Tim O’Pry | Chief Security Officer With the advent of the Internet of Things (internet connected devices), the average consumer is likely to have multiple devices in their home, office, or on their person that is capable of surreptitious surveillance and not be aware of it. One of the more high profile examples of…

Blog 184

Back(up) to Basics

By: Tim O’Pry, Chief Security Officer While the primary focus of these articles to date has been on cybersecurity, there is another aspect of protecting your information that is of equal importance: the regular and secure back up of your digital data (files, photos, etc.). While hacking gets the majority of the headlines, the average…

Blog 185

Are You an S Corporation Stockholder? Are You Taking Reasonable Compensation in the Form of Wages?

S corporation compensation requirements are often misunderstood and abused by owner-shareholders. An S corporation is a type of business structure in which the business does not pay income tax at the corporate level and instead distributes (passes through) the income, gains, losses, and deductions to the shareholders for inclusion on their income tax returns. If…

Blog 188

Understanding Risk

Generally, when financial advisors or the media talk about investment risk, their focus is on the historical price volatility of the asset or investment under discussion. Advisors label as aggressive or risky an investment that has been prone to wild price gyrations in the past. The presumed uncertainty and unpredictability of this investment’s future performance…

Blog 192

Know Your Mutual Funds

Almost 100 million Americans, representing about 44% of U.S. households, owned mutual funds in 2018. Saving for retirement was the primary goal for 73% of investors; other goals included saving for college or a house, building an emergency fund, or providing current income.* Mutual funds offer a convenient way to participate in a broad range…

Blog 195

Will Gifts Now Using the Temporarily Increased Gift-Estate Exclusion Harm Estates after 2025?

Individuals with large estates generally want to gift portions of their estate to beneficiaries while they are still living, to avoid or lessen the estate tax when they pass away. That can be done through annual gifts (up to the inflation-adjusted annual limit for each gift recipient each year—$15,000 for 2019) and/or by utilizing the…

Blog 199

How can I protect my personal and financial information from credit fraud and identity theft?

In today’s digital world, massive computer hacks and data breaches are common occurrences. And chances are, your personal or financial information is now susceptible to being used for credit fraud or identity theft. If you discover that you are the victim of either of these crimes, you should consider placing a credit freeze or fraud…

Blog 200

When to Claim a Disaster Loss

Tax reform eliminated the deduction for casualty losses but did retain a deduction for losses within a disaster area. With the wild fires in the west, hurricanes and flooding in the southeast and eastern seaboard we have had a number of presidentially declared disaster areas this year. If you were an unlucky victim and suffered…

Blog 207

Resolve to Do These 3 Things in QuickBooks Online This Month

By now, many New Year’s resolutions have already been made—and broken. Though they’re usually created with the best of intentions, they’re often just too ambitious to be realistic. For example, you might decide to learn more about QuickBooks Online and keep up with your accounting chores more conscientiously in 2019. That’s hard to quantify. How…

Blog 208

I’m a first-time homebuyer, and I don’t have a lot of cash to put down on a house. What type of mortgage would be best for me?

If you are a first-time homebuyer and don’t have a lot of money for a down payment on a home, you may want to consider obtaining a mortgage through a government mortgage lending program such as those offered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly known as the Veterans…

Year-End Charitable Giving

The tax benefits associated with charitable giving could potentially enhance your ability to give and should be considered as part of your year-end tax planning. Tax Deduction for Charitable Gifts If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can generally deduct your gifts to qualified charities. This may also help you potentially…

Tactical year-end financial moves to help improve your financial situation

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, explains that if you own stocks or mutual funds, there are some moves at year-end that might help your financial situation. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to buy.…

Do I need to provide credit information on my auto insurance application?

When you apply for an auto insurance policy, don’t be surprised to find questions about your credit on the insurance company’s application. In addition to the other information you provide, the company may use your credit information as part of its applicant-screening process. But are insurance companies being too nosy and intrusive when they request…

Managing the Failure Points

By: Tim O’Pry | Chief Security Officer Over the years (decades), I have been asked for tips on everything from starting a business to the perfunctory cocktail question of, “What do you do?”. Regardless of the question, the answer is the same: I manage failure points. That answer tends to end most casual cocktail conversation…

Will You Get a Refund or Owe for 2018?

Your refund is the amount that your pre-payments (withheld income tax, estimated tax payments, and certain credits) exceed your tax liability, and if the pre-payment also got reduced, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise at tax time. So, why would the pre-payments, particularly withholding, be less? Simply because the current W-4 form on…

Donor-Advised Funds: Impactful Giving the Easy Way

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, explains how easy it is for the charitably inclined to establish their own donor-advised fund to increase the impact of their giving. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to…

Are my student loans eligible for public service loan forgiveness?

If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. The PSLF, which began in 2007, forgives the remaining balance on federal Direct Loans after you have made 120 monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time…

Most Common Types of IRS Tax Problems

Receiving notification from the Internal Revenue Service that there’s some kind of problem is one of the most bone-chilling situations an American taxpayer can experience. Just receiving an envelope with a return address from the IRS can strike fear. There are many different reasons that the IRS might reach out, but some are more common…

New Credit Legislation

Recently, as part of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018, Congress made several changes to credit rules that benefit consumers. Under the new law, consumers are now allowed to “freeze” and “unfreeze” their credit reports free of charge at all three of the major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and…

Hardship Exemption Rules for Not Having Health Insurance Eased

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) included a “shared responsibility payment,” which in reality is a penalty for not having health insurance. Along with this penalty came a whole slew of exemptions from the penalty, including some that were designated as “hardship” exemptions. However, the hardship relief from the penalty required pre-approval from the government health…

How Much to Save to a 401(k)

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal we explain that while getting the employer match is important, that should really be the bare minimum you save. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to buy. The investments referenced within this…

I'm looking for a job. How can I tell if an employer is offering a good insurance benefit package?

Ultimately, an employer is offering a good insurance benefit package if it’s one that appeals to you and meets your needs. But here are some specific things you might look for. Perhaps the most important piece is the health insurance offered. You’ll want coverage that adequately meets your medical needs. Hopefully, it will also allow…

Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

This year’s wildfires, record rains, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes and potential for earthquakes should all act as reminders that you should be prepared for a disaster. Sure, it will take some effort on your part and you may never be affected by a disaster, but if you are, you will sure wish you had been prepared.…

College Net Price Calculator

If you’re saving for a child’s college education, at some point you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a college net price calculator, which is an invaluable tool for estimating financial aid and measuring a college’s affordability. Available on every college website, a net price calculator gives families an estimate of how much grant aid a…

Life Insurance with a Refund

Comparatively speaking, of all the different types of life insurance available, term is usually the least expensive. Generally, term life insurance provides protection for a stated or defined period of time, usually from one year to 30 years. If you die during the coverage term, your beneficiary receives the death benefit from the policy. But…

QuickBooks Tip: How QuickBooks Online Can Improve Your Company's Financial Health

If you’re already using QuickBooks Online, you know how much impact its bookkeeping abilities have had on your company’s accounting operations. You’re saving time, which in-turn saves money, and you’re reducing errors. When a customer or vendor calls with a question, or you yourself need to track down a critical detail to solve a problem,…

Blockchain Buzz: Emerging Tech Offers Potential, Not Promises

Blockchain is a data structure used to create a digital ledger shared among a distributed network of computers. It was initially designed for the peer-to-peer exchange of the virtual currency bitcoin. However, businesses are now developing and testing some potentially game-changing blockchain applications. According to a recent survey of executives across a variety of industries,…

How much money should you keep in a savings account for emergencies?

Without an adequate emergency fund, a period of crisis could be financially devastating. Many financial professionals suggest that you set aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses for emergencies. The actual amount, however, should be based on your individual circumstances. Do you have a mortgage? Do you have short-term and long-term disability protection? Other…

IRA Missteps to Avoid

If you have an IRA account or are considering one, there are a number of potential missteps you will want to avoid. Some of them can lead to unwanted taxes and penalties, and of course, we are talking about your retirement funding, so it is an important issue. Here are a number of issues to…

The Transition into Retirement

The transition into retirement is when you are changing from your full-time working years to your retirement years. If retirement is approaching, you may have to make numerous decisions. Questions you might be asking yourself: Can you afford to retire? What about early retirement—is it a possibility? If you want to continue working, are there…

Tax Reform 2.0 Is in the Works

The dust has not yet settled from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), passed into law in December 2017, and the House Ways and Means Committee is already considering another round of tax changes. The committee chair, Kevin Brady, Republican from Texas, wants to include input from stakeholders such as business groups, think tanks…

Concentration Risk Makes the S&P 500 Not the Best Benchmark

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, explains why you probably shouldn’t compare your portfolio’s performance to the S&P 500 Index. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to buy. The investments referenced within this article may currently…

How Some High-Income Taxpayers Can Maximize the New 20% Pass-through Business Deduction

Taxpayers with higher 1040 taxable incomes who are self-employed but are not “specified service businesses” may find it beneficial to structure new businesses, or restructure an existing business, as an S corporation to avoid taxable income limitations that apply to the new 20% Sec. 199A pass-through deduction. To make up for the tax reform’s reduction…

Case Study: Concentration Risk Makes The S&P 500 Not the Best Benchmark

Chief Investment Officer Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, is joined by Managing Associate D.J. Barker, CWS®, and Senior Associate Jarrett McKenzie, CFP®, CWS®, to take a deeper look at a common investor sentiment about not keeping up with market performance. They discuss the faults with the S&P 500 index as a benchmark, the problems with chasing returns and portfolio risk.

Is an Inheritance Taxable?

A frequent question is whether inheritances are taxable. This is a frequently misunderstood question related to taxation and can be complicated. When someone passes away, all of their assets will be subject to inheritance taxation, and whatever is left over after paying the inheritance tax passes to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Sound bleak? Don’t worry, very…

Carefully Consider Your Expenses Before Overborrowing for College

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, discusses the trend of college students overborrowing on student loans to cover lifestyle costs beyond tuition and education expenses. The numbers are shocking! Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation…

Taxpayers Find Gift Tax Reporting Confusing

Gift taxes were created to prevent wealthy taxpayers from transferring their estates to their beneficiaries via gifts and thus avoid estate taxes when they pass away. But that does not mean only wealthy taxpayers need to be concerned with the gift tax provisions as, under many circumstances, even lower-income taxpayers may find they are liable…

Taxation of Legal Settlements or Awards

The tax treatment of awards received as the result of a lawsuit could result in taxable or non-taxable income, depending upon a number of issues. The laws are often complex and sometimes seemingly discriminatory. The actual taxation of an award is primarily based on the following factors: The nature of the legal action, The type…

403 (b) Plans: The Basics

Retirement plans established under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, commonly referred to as “403(b) plans or “tax-sheltered annuities,” have become a popular type of employer-sponsored retirement plan. What is a 403(b) plan? A 403(b) plan is a retirement savings plan, sponsored by a tax-exempt organization or public school, that offers significant tax benefits…

Got a Letter from the IRS?

If you have received an IRS envelope from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in your mailbox that does not contain a refund check, it will probably cause an increase your heart rate likely increased. But Don’t panic, though; most of the issues in these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly. Every year, the…

Solar Tax Credit: The Dark Side

There are TV ads, telemarketing phone calls and sales people at your front door all promoting the benefits of solar power, and one of the key considerations and a frequently mentioned benefit is the 30% federal tax credit. What isn’t included in the ads—and something most potential buyers are unaware of—is that the solar credit…

Big Changes to the Kiddie Tax

Years ago, to prevent parents from transferring their investment accounts into their children’s name to avoid taxes, Congress created what is referred to as the kiddie tax. This counteracted the strategy of taking income from the parents’ higher tax bracket and shifting it to their children’s lower tax bracket. The kiddie tax plugged that tax…

You can accept risk when you have time, but what happens when time changes?

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, describes how your time horizon and risk tolerance for investing are intricately linked, and what to do when time horizons change. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to…

Late Day Sell-Off

The holiday-shortened trading day was marked by a significant sell-off in the final hour of trading that left the S&P 500 0.49% lower on the day. Information Technology found its way to the bottom of the sectors, losing 1.37% while the otherwise lackluster Telecommunication Services sector charged ahead, gaining 1.16% on the day.

Creating a Philanthropic Legacy with an Income Stream for You

In today’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, explains how you can profit from your business, minimize your capital gains, and benefit a charity by creating a charitable trust. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to buy.…

Stocks Slip

Indices ended trading in the red zone on Wednesday. Stocks slipped amid the approval of the AT&T — Time Warner acquisition. The decision impacted brands such as CVS, who tacked on over 3% today, and may clear the path for the $69 billion CVS and Aetna acquisition.

A Green Finish

Indices closed well into the green zone on Monday. Merck, Walmart, and Home Depot led advancers on the Dow. All-time highs from Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft led the Nasdaq up to a new record level. Stocks advanced in the wake of stronger-than-expected payroll additions for May.

Stock Buybacks are Often a Vote of Confidence from Management

In todya’s Marietta Daily Journal, Bil Lako, CFP®, explains while we prefer to see companies invest in more innovation, research and development, and new product offerings, that stock buyback programs are not a bad thing. Read the Article This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on…

Sometimes a yield curve is just a snapshot of rates at a given time

Bil Lako, CFP®, explains how one leading economic indicator doesn’t always mean the economy is doomed. Read more in today’s Marietta Daily Journal. This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular investments, NOT a recommendation to buy. The investments referenced within this article may currently…

Stocks are a Long-Term Investment; Short-Term Volatility Shouldn’t Matter

It’s your money and your financial future you’re watching decline. Bil Lako, CFP®, explains that it’s the actions that you take during that volatility that define you as an investor. Read more in today’s Marietta Daily Journal This article is for demonstrative and academic purposes and is meant to provide valuable background information on particular…

Slight Slip

Consumer Staples stocks tumbled Thursday, pulling the S&P 500 Index lower as investors showed signs of fatigue after three straight days of gains. Investors were jarred by the weak performance of some of the world’s biggest consumer product companies that reported earnings results.

Sectors Moving Higher

It was “risk on” again Tuesday as stocks rebounded from Monday’s selloff with all 11 sectors moving higher. For much of the day, stocks teetered between gains and losses before rallying late in the day. The Dow rose almost 400 points or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose 1.3% and 1% respectively.

Stocks Slip

Indices closed fractionally in red territory on Wednesday. Stocks traded marginally lower in the wake of news from the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting. The FOMC agreed to boost the target range for the Fed funds rate by 25 basis points to 1.5% to 1.75%, as anticipated.

Dr. Gene Henssler Makes Annual List

Gene W. Henssler, Ph.D., was recognized by Barron’s Magazine “Top 1,200 Financial Advisors.” Barron’s published their annual state-by-state listing of financial advisors in the March 10, 2018 issue. Coming in at No. 7 this year, Dr. Henssler has made the Georgia list since 2014. See the List Barron’s 2018 “Top 1,200 Financial Advisors” published in…

Red Results

Indices closed the session in red territory on Tuesday. 3M, Boeing, United Health and McDonald’s traded lower on the Dow. Meanwhile, crude oil took a breather. West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 1.85% today to settle at $64.35 a barrel. Energy brands such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil slipped on the news.

Mildly Mixed

Indices closed out mildly mixed on Wednesday. The Dow and Nasdaq posted gains on policy commentary from the Federal Reserve meeting while the S&P 500 landed slightly in the red zone. As anticipated, the Federal Open Market Committee lifted the target range for the fed funds rate by 25 basis points to 1.25% to 1.5%.

A Red Finish

Indices ended trading in red territory on Friday. Stocks rebounded up off session lows to close in the red zone for the day. Technology brands such as Apple, Facebook, and Alphabet sold off. Meanwhile, energy sector brands including Exxon Mobil and Schlumberger ticked up on a jump in crude oil prices.

Stocks Step Up

Indices ended trading in the green zone on Thursday. The Dow closed above 24,000 for the first time and the S&P 500 climbed to a new record level. Technology brands including Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft rebounded from Wednesday’s dip. Meanwhile, crude oil prices ticked up on OPEC news.

Blog 214

Cybersecurity 101

The reality is that each week there is another high-profile story like the incidents at Equifax, Target, and Yahoo. Unfortunately, there are many more that never make the headlines. The fact is business is online these days, from receiving eStatements from Schwab to buying your movie tickets for Friday night. One thing is clear: You…