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Plug In Now: Drive Your New Electric Vehicle, EV, Home For $1.00

Posted by on Dec 23, 2017 in Financial planning, Income planning, Income tax saving ideas and strategies., Retirement, Taxes | 0 comments

My Plugged In Life

Hello! As a financial planner for over twenty years my job has always been to help people make really smart decisions about their money and how to achieve the quality of life they desire. In this win-win article, I have set my sights on fighting climate change – the world’s greatest existential threat of mass destruction and extinction on one hand while also helping people significantly elevate the quality of their lives. Learn how here.

Personal story: When Motor Trend chose the new Chevy Bolt as the 2017 Car of the Year[1] I was paying attention. In the aftermath of devastating serial hurricane disasters in Texas, the Gulf Coast, Florida, the Caribbean, and huge wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington State, this pilot is navigating a whole new course. As a lifetime New Englander I have seen the massive destruction of storms like hurricanes Hugo, Gloria, Diana, Edna and Super Storm Sandy, but I have never seen anything on the scale of destruction like the forces we’ve all witnessed in 2017.

Stunned, I developed a program to help people fight climate change on one hand while building a brighter future for Americans and their communities. I aspire to help one hundred people qualify for $10,000 or more in rebates, refunds and tax credits on their next new car purchase – with a catch. They have to be plug in electric and they have to be a new owner before January 1, 2018 when the federal tax credit expires! That adds up to a total benefit of one million dollars. I’ve plugged in and you can too. It’s easy, fun and even profitable. You can own a new plug in car for as little as one dollar net of your cash flows over a three year period if you act now.

Why Electric Plug In?  Economics, fun, convenience and be the future you want. The economics of electric vehicles or EVs are compelling – often surpassing internal combustion engines, ICE vehicles and without all the maintenance. Here’s why. State and federal governments are offering significant financial incentives to purchase vehicles at least partially powered by electric motors. At the top of the list is California offering up to $4,000 income capped refund on top the $7,500 federal income tax credit.[2] Imagine buying a car and getting a kicker of $11,500. That’s almost half the sticker price of some EVs! For instance a 2017 ForTwo Smart Car EV has an MSRP of $23,800. After $10,000 incentives in Massachusetts for example, your cost would be just $13,800 before sales tax for a brand new car! In addition, Mass Electric like other state utility companies offer discounted dealer deals right out of the gate. See table 1b[3] for matching cars and deals to your budget. Also, electric car prices are falling fast.

Plug In Taxes and perks: Sales tax states. Some states have the added perk of either no sales tax (MT, OR, NH) or a sales tax exemption (WA) for an EV or plug in purchase. Others like CO (2.9%) have relatively low rates. Depending on your state, other perks may include free state or municipal recharging and even free parking.[4] Also, several coastal states offer free HOV lane use. I’m in!

Fuel savings; an all electric car is about five times more fuel efficient than gas cars. So instead of $2.50 per gallon at the pumps, you’d pay a 50 cent electric bill to go the same number of miles. Also, operating costs of EVs are much lower simply because they are all electric! There’s no engine or transmission, no pistons, cam shafts, valves, fan belts or timing chains. Fewer moving parts translate to less maintenance. Considering ICE cars have 2000 versus 20 moving parts of EVs. That’s a 100 times as many parts to maintain.  Also, since EV battery life is long, manufacturers warranty the power supply for up to eight years. As the leading performance EV versus price, I limited my review to the new 2017 Chevy Bolt mostly to exemplify the best advantages of EV driving.

Performance: For the price the Chevy Bolt is a quantum leap in driving performance. “The 2017 Bolt EV is a game-changing electric vehicle that delivers long range at an affordable price,” said Steve Majoros, Marketing Director, Chevrolet Cars & Crossovers.” Moreover, after winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award “Green Car Journal editors selected the 2017 Bolt for its 238 mile (383 km) driving range, stylish design, pleasing driving dynamics…” With available 50 kW SAE Combo DC fast charging that can add 90 mi (140 km) of range in 30 minutes or fill the battery to 80% capacity in an hour the Bolt has virtually unlimited range. The EPA fuel economy rating is 119 MPG (2L/100 km). Acceleration is a breathtaking 0-60 MPH in 6.3 seconds and attention-grabbing 266 foot pounds of torque. With no engine or transmission the Bolt accelerates smoothly. It’s also noticeably quiet. That’s refreshing in our noisy world.

Road handling in my Chevy Bolt Premier is simply superb. A low position of the batteries under the floor translates into a low CG that permits my Bolt to grip the road on turns like a magnet to metal. That’s much better than most stock cars I’ve driven in my lifetime.

Price: Until July 2017, the Bolt is the only plug-in electric car with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of less than US $50,000 capable of delivering an EPA-rated range of over 200 mi (320 km).[57] [5]

Convenience: Generally with a plug in electric, you park and plug at work or you tuck your car in for the night by plugging it in at your home. The next morning you are ready to go. No gas stations, no lines, no gas smell, no wait. You’re cruising. Other niceties in some models like the Chevy Bolt EV include remote seat heating and climate control options. You can also remotely check your battery and charging status. Like a superhero it can even melt the ice off your windshield while you’re sipping a morning coffee and reading the news. When you do have to brave those inevitable frigid days, your Bolt can warm you as fast as you can close the door. Safety and entertainment: the Bolt EV comes with OnStar satellite GPS, road service and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot that connects to the Internet at 4G LTE speeds. It includes OnStar free Data Trial for 3 months or 3GB (whichever comes first). Available 4G LTE Wi-Fi requires compatible mobile device. Options include Apple Play where whatever is in your I-tunes account is playable in your Bolt: Podcasts, music, and audio books with Bluetooth streaming from your I-phone.

Best Time to Buy? When is the best time to purchase? Due to limited state funding of rebate programs the best time to purchase an EV is during the first quarter of the fiscal year. If the fiscal year ends September 30, buy your EV before Christmas and your odds of getting your rebate are generally high. Once state funds run out, the checks stop too. Some states like Massachusetts and California roll your application to their next fiscal year. Those in this category get bumped ahead of anyone who applied after them without having to re-apply.


Table 1B. Massachusetts Incentives by EV Make.     * Model only available in California

Make and Model









Mass Energy

Top 2017 Green


Fed Credit

(Expired 12/31/17)

Thank s to the GOP



Total discounts and credits Net cost before sales tax and refund
BMW i3 114  



$14,000 $7,500 $21,500 $25,645
Chevrolet Bolt LT 238 $37,495 $5,500 $7,500 $13,000 $24,495
Chevrolet Bolt Premier 238 $41,780 $5,500 $7,500 $13,000 $28,780
Fiat 500e 84 $33,990 $00.00 $7,500 $7,500 $26,490
Ford Focus Electric 76 $29,120 $00.00 $7,500 $7,500 $21,620
Hyundai Ioniq Electric * 100 $31,000 $00.00 $7,500 $7,500 $23,500
Kia Optima Plug in Hybrid 27 $36,155 $4,500 $7,500 $12,000 $24,155
Smart Fortwo 70-80 $24,550 $2,000 $7,500 $9,500 $15,050
Nissan Leaf S30 105 $30,680 $00.00 $7,500 $7,500 $23,180
Chevy Volt Premier 53/400 $39,435 $6,500 $7,500 $14,000 $25,435
Chevy Volt LT 53/400 $34,095 $6,500 $7,500 $14,000 $20,095
Tesla Model S 238 $74,500 $00.00 $7,500 $7,500 $67,000
Tesla Model X Model 90D 257 $79,500 $00.00 $7,500 $7,500 $72,000

What are the deals? Incentives are packaged in Federal, state and local programs. The goal is to get you into an EV soon. Federal credits (see table) vary by car battery capacity and whether they are hybrids or pure electric vehicles. This credit will reduce your federal income tax by the same amount. If you owe IRS $6,000, for example, it will wipe out that tax. However, you cannot carry forward the remaining $1,500 to the next tax year. So plan wisely. This could be the opportunity for you to take extra income in the current tax year and pay no federal income tax on it.

State programs vary and they have their own rules. Check out your state in the accompanying table to see how much you could benefit.

Some local communities like Long Island, NY PSEG customers can qualify for an additional $10,000 rebate, but just for a new Nissan Leaf. That’s on top of a state $2,000 NYSERDA refund. Combined with the federal tax credit, that’s a $19,500 total incentive to drive an EV and cleaner air back to your community.

How do programs work? You may qualify for the state and federal benefits whether you buy or lease an EV. Check prices and programs at local dealers. Caution: They are likely to steer you away from local incentives. In fact, they’re unlikely to even mention it. Why? You guessed it. They make a lot more profit for a car sale outside these programs.

Best deal: use a car loan to purchase your EV, take your tax refund and state refund and pay down loan. If you traded or sold your old ICE car, you may come out ahead with no debt and a little extra cash in your pocket. You can save big with our BUY A NEW CAR AND MAKE MONEY WITHOUT ANXIETY OR CONFUSION program.

Table: Plug-in electric/gas hybrids Fed Tax Credit (Expires on 31 Dec, 2017).

Table 3. Federal Tax Credit by auto make.

One of many financial incentives to buy an EV

Audi A3 e-tron $4,205
BMW i3 (with range extender) $7,500
BMW i8 $3,793
Chevrolet Volt $7,500
Chrysler Pacifica $7,500
Ford C-Max Energi $4,007
Ford Fusion Energi $4,007
Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid $4,919
Kia Optima Plug-In $4,919
Toyota Prius Prime $4,502
Volvo XC90 T8 $4,585


Table 4. Top Plug In EV incentives by State.

State Max Credit or Refund Tax rate Free charging Local website State web link
MA $2,500 6.25% Yes
CO $5,000 2.9% Yes
LA $2,500 4% Limited
NY $2,000 4% Yes

How Do You Qualify? The first five hundred get this deep discount car buying system absolutely 100% free of charge. But you must act now. Congress is working hard to repeal the $7,500 federal tax credit after the 2017 tax year. Don’t lose out. Download your BUY A NEW CAR AND MAKE MONEY WITHOUT ANXIETY OR CONFUSION Strategy now and you too can save 25-50% off your next car purchase with just a few hours of your time. To give yourself enough time to research your next purchase and to execute the system I created, the BUY A NEW CAR AND MAKE MONEY WITHOUT ANXIETY OR CONFUSION for you, please respond by midnight E.T. December 27. You have nothing to lose. Consider it my holiday gift to you. It likely will be the biggest gift by far you’ll receive in 2017!

Conclusion: Electric automobiles are a leap forward in driving experience for three very big reasons: First, buyers may get state and company financial incentives. Second, employers, cities and states offer free plugin refueling and last but certainly not least, they deliver cleaner air for our planet and make our driving experience, well, electrifying. You can lead others to this experience and pump cleaner air and thousands of dollars back into your community just by following the steps listed on “BUY A NEW CAR AND MAKE MONEY WITHOUT ANXIETY OR CONFUSION” Register to be the first in the know about great money tips and be one of the first 500 to download whitepaper. You have a very limited time to act. I will close this free offer to drive you EV plug in home after 500 downloads of this free whitepaper. To get your free copy explaining exactly how to land your own deeply discounted plugin deal sign up at  I’ll send a free copy to the first 500 who register. Please include your full name, contact phone and email address. Note: This article was originally written in October, 2017. Plug In Vehicles became $7,500 more expensive as of January 1, 2018 because our congress and Whitehouse cut it in  the 2018 tax bill. That said, you can still save with discounts of 4-5 digit figures with my step by step white paper.

Last, it’s important to view car buying is a five year cycle and not a single event. Here’s why: The average car is driven about 15,000 miles per year. More and more of today’s cars are making the 150,000 marker. For planning purposes, I’m using a five year cash planning cycle. That means that your car purchase is NOT a separate event in one month or one year. It’s different for plugins purchased in 2017. For them I’m looking at it from the perspective of a three year cycle because of the state and federal financial incentives which dramatically reduce the cost of ownership. For 2018 and beyond it is best to use a five year cost. Simply extend the three year annual costs and savings in my article to spread them over a five year time period to disclose your actual costs. When you do this, you may find some models that will cost you very little – if anything – over the five year analysis. Don’t loose out. Act now and claim your prize. Happy cruising!



[3] Dealer prices may vary by model year and the date you decide to make your car buying deal.

[4] Varies by state and city.


401k Plan; Trump Gives Wall Street the Key to Drain Them

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Financial planning, Income planning, Investment ideas, Retirement, Wealth Management | Comments Off on 401k Plan; Trump Gives Wall Street the Key to Drain Them

Life with focus and purpose

Steve Wightman, Certified Financial Planner

Like Your Home, 401k Plans Suffer Stealth Burglary. If I warned you that a professional burglar was now casing your home and all its contents what would your reaction be? Would you want to learn more about why I’m telling you this? Would you laugh and think I’m playing you? Would you scoff and say “that’s preposterous!” and walk away? Or would you believe me and take precautionary measures? Today, when it comes to retirement accounts, especially the 401k kind, the vast majority of account holders respond with anything but the latter. And if you are anything like me, it’s likely a million dollar mistake. Can you afford that kind of a black hole in your life? Not me!

A tale of two 401k plan savers. Follow me as I share a tale of two 401k forty-year retirement savers. First, Adele, a high Tech worker, now age 62 who saved an average of $862 per month since day one in her 401K and like plans as well as IRAs. John, a sole proprietor, age 64, saved exactly the same amounts, but in all low fee investments inside his solo 401k plan and his IRA. Conversely, Adele invested in mutual funds with an average annual fee of 2.65% plus she paid a 1% additional fee on purchase and another 1.6% each time shares were sold to re-balance her holdings. Due to her high fees years 1 and 2, I assume a total return rate of 0%. John’s annual portfolio expenses were just 0.163%, about 2.5% lower than Adele’s portfolio because he purchased only index and exchange-traded funds. In both cases I projected return rates of the past ten years ending September 30, 2017 to the entire periods listed in the table. I did this merely for the sake of a comparison study. Real returns may vary, but with expenses remaining the same, the per cent differences in Adele’s and John’s investment performances would remain high. Let’s see what the return rates look like over 10, 20 and40 years.


Ann Exp

Aver Return

10 Year $

20 Yr $

40 Year $













S & P 500






The 7 Digit Difference: 401k plan retirement savings is $1,717,347 greater. John kept his fees to a minimum and wound up with 274% more liquid wealth than Adele. Essentially, John is easily able to fund his retirement even if he lives to age 100 where conversely, Adele is at a high risk to run out of money if she were to maintain her preretirement living standards. Further, women live longer and thus need more cash.

Surprising Outcomes: This fictitious portrayal admittedly is a somewhat extreme example of investment performances however it is based on my real life experiences as a financial planner reviewing retirement accounts for clients. It was not uncommon to see high fees continually drag 401k plan performance. I’ve seen accounts where annual fees were even higher. The point here is simple: Fees make an enormous difference in long-term investment performance.

The Fiduciary Rule A Bit of History: That’s why President Obama placed a shield around our retirement savings called the Fiduciary Rule. It says that those giving advice on retirement accounts must meet a very high standard; put the client’s interest above all others and act in their UTMOST best interest at ALL times. Prior to the roll out targeted for April of 2016 and effective a year later, advisers could put retirement savers in low performing high fee accounts as long as they could prove it was “suitable’- a much lower standard of care. For example, Kodak in 1998 only had five investment choices in its 401k plan limiting diversification and increasing investment risks and volatility. Employees had a choice, take it or leave it. The plan was obviously not designed in their “utmost best interest”. Like millions of similar plans then, most new employees either didn’t enroll or didn’t contribute.

Today and the Fiduciary Rule, an Obama administration regulation long advocated by professional organizations like the Board of Certified Financial Planners, is being dismantled leg by leg by the Trump’s presidential edicts delaying implementation. This will continue to guarantee 17 billion annually in fees for Wall Street advisers and their vast networks. It’s like putting burglars inside your 401k plan savings so they may thrive but you won’t because as they say in Vegas, the house always wins!

401k plan, retirement, IRA

Change your thoughts and habits changes your wealth

The Price of Being Blind: What you don’t know can hurt you! It’s a million-dollar difference! If your retirement savings are important to you and you like me can’t afford to loose seven figures, stay tuned for more about the Fiduciary Rule – your shield against the 17 billion dollar burglars. Trump or no Trump, we advisers owe it to investors to always put all clients first and foremost.

Resources for more information:


The ACA, Obamacare, the Health of our Nation in The Crosshairs

Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Book Cover, Financial planning, Life Planning, Psychology of money, Taxes, Wealth Management | Comments Off on The ACA, Obamacare, the Health of our Nation in The Crosshairs

Women, Wealth and Wisdom, the book.

Life of purpose on purpose.

The primary purpose of health insurance is to have everyone in one big pool where risk and costs are averaged so the sickest, the healthiest and everyone in between can afford healthcare. The big question in health insurance today is “who should pay for it and what should the insured get in benefits?” Fundamentally, this is an argument of individualism verses a collective good. Individuals ask “why should I pay to cover someone else’s healthcare costs? This argument is as old as civilization itself. It begins with citizenship. Should an individual be responsible to the state and vice versa? Should one be responsible to a community, a neighborhood, for that matter, even one’s own family? Should the inverse also be true? Historically, great nations would tell us yes! No nation can survive long if its individuals aren’t bound together as a cohesive unit. Citizens serve the greater good of nations who in turn keep their social contracts to serve the individuals with infrastructure, defense, social services, pensions and yes, health care! Without this social contract of one for all and all for one, all the great civilizations we know today would perish. President Abraham Lincoln put it this way; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Throughout the Anthropocene era human populations have climbed from a few to a few billion precisely because social order and its fundamental unit, the tribe, has been our time tested survival tool. Men were hunters who collectively found, killed, cut and packed foods and women processed it for preservation and consumption. Strength in number is also common in nature. From elephants, to bird flocks, to monkeys, ants and fish, animals warn of danger and defend the herd or flock. What’s the result? More survive and live much longer. If great numbers work for bettering the lot of a herd in Africa, or birds in our backyards why wouldn’t that concept also work for health insurance a la ACA?

A BRIEF HISTORY: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare, signed into law on March 23, 2010, has its roots in its model, “Romneycare” because Massachusetts republican Governor Mit Romney signed a universal healthcare law in 2006. Romneycare was widely popular in Massachusetts and with over 95% insured it was and is extremely successful in providing universal healthcare coverage. Further, it served as a model to the drafting of the ACA. Insurance premiums decreased rapidly under Romneycare[1] and 400,000 people were added to the insurance rolls by the end of 2007. Enter the ACA. Criticized by republicans as too expensive, or that it will accelerate the federal deficit, it has had the opposite effect as demonstrated by the Massachusetts model. Even with overwhelming evidence that the ACA is good for America and a lifesaver for citizens it has had over fifty attempts to repeal, dismantle or amend it including one Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate that employ economic levers to encourage massive enrollments especially for those populations who think they don’t need it.

HOW IT WORKS – THE BASIC LEGS AND THE PRINCIPLES: Health insurance is a lot like a navy ship; it can only sail when everyone is onboard. With each absence – each person that doesn’t show up – the vessel becomes less able to function efficiently and attain its goal. To do this the Navy makes attendance mandatory. Similarly, the way insurance generally works is by insuring a large pool of diverse risks (people) so that the participants pay an average affordable cost of the entire pool of insured based upon an average risk of that pool. Granted, insurance companies may segregate the big pool to sub-pools or groups and assess higher or lower premiums on them. Until the ACA became law, this is exactly what happened. Result? Health insurance for millions of Americans in higher risk pools was far too expensive. The ACA to a large degree fixed that. The goal of ACA insurance is to serve everyone from infants to elders, working or not, and to do so at a cost participants can afford. Here’s how.

All aboard please! The Individual Mandate is the requirement to purchase health insurance OR pay an income tax penalty for anyone not covered by an employer sponsored healthcare plan or a government sponsored plan such as Medicare, Veterans Administration, (VA) or Medicaid or for those who are in financial hardship. The Mandate along with limits on open enrollment is designed to get everyone onboard and prevent a death spiral whereby people hold off enrolling until they become sick, consequently driving up healthcare costs and insurance premiums for everyone else. Remember the navy ship? It works best when all are onboard. The second purpose of the Individual Mandate is to prevent “adverse selection” whereby only the sickest slice of our population signs on hoping to pay a fraction of the insurance cost of the care they are actually receiving. It’s like buying an insurance policy only when you know your ship is sinking. The end result is high premium costs, higher deductibles and increased co-payments. This in turn cascades into more illnesses, medical bankruptcies, and increased mortality when healthcare recedes further and further from the financial reach of those who most need it. The mandate vastly improved the size and diversity of the insured population including young and older, sick and healthy and consequently drove down healthcare costs significantly via universal coverage aka large pool pricing benefit.

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM PAST INSURANCE?  The ACA although not perfect is a vast improvement over former health individual insurance policies that had an average cost increases of over 10% annually between 2008-2010. Employers also voiced increasing anger and dismay to escalating costs. For example, employer health insurance premiums in a five year period increased twice as fast pre ACA (2000-2005) verses post ACA years (2010-2015). Let’s explore how.

Benefits, what’s new? First, guaranteed acceptance means you can’t be turned down regardless of preexisting conditions or your medical history. The ACA, or Obamacare also requires minimum basic free coverage for preventive healthcare such as vaccinations, screenings, gestational diabetes, prenatal care, and wellness visits. The latter saves money and lives via early detection and treatment – something no one would deny their own families. Further, out of pocket payments are capped for family or individual medical expenses. When this cap is exceeded, the insurance company must pay for all additional medical costs. Also, individuals and families receive subsidies directly via an immediate tax credit or indirectly (by way of their employers). Moreover, participating insurance companies receive federal government payments to be and remain policy issuers. All of this drives down healthcare costs for end users. Moreover portability standardizes benefits so no matter where your employment takes you, your coverage and benefits remain virtually the same.[2] Access to this information is also standardized via the Healthcare Exchanges – set up in some states and with the Federal Government at Health and Human Services, HHS – both individual and employer’s, called SHOPS, Small Business Health Options Program. The ACA also provides individuals a choice of four tiers of coverage, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum to cover the needs of a diverse population.

MEDICAID EXPANSION is a cost lid. It is designed to put health insurance and care within reach of millions more people who exist with incomes 100% – 400% of the Federal Poverty Line, FPL. Medicaid are state run programs funded largely by Washington. Under the ACA, the Feds would pay state 100% of Expansion costs until the year 2020 when it drops to 90%. Stating they couldn’t afford this 10% copayment, many states refused to adopt Medicaid Expansion leaving 6.4 million men, women and children uninsured because they could not meet either the ACA or the state Medicaid qualifying thresholds.[3] In other words, they were dropped into a financial hole they couldn’t climb out of. Here’s an example. In Kansas, those who fell into the hole of 32-100% of the poverty level, ($6,250-$19,300) earned too much to qualify for state Medicaid, but too little to qualify for subsidies under the ACA![4] M.E. lowered premiums on Exchange policies too because of fewer low income enrollees, according to a 2016 DHS study.[5]

REDUCTION OF THE FEDERAL DEFICIT: The Congressional Budget Office, CBO – a very reliable government information source – predicts that the ACA between years 2012-2021 will shave over 200 billion dollars from the deficit because it will intake 813 billion in total receipts and pay out 604 billion. In 2015, the CBO further reported that a repeal of the ACA would add from 137 to 353 billion dollars to the federal deficit and if not repealed, from years 2022-2031, the deficit would shrink by another 1.2 trillion dollars.

Lastly, the CBO also calculated that the Medicare Trust Fund, MTF, would benefit with an extended life expectancy of eight years because Medicare payments would decrease with the ACA in play.

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: The most important thing the ACA needs to do more is to educate taxpayers of its benefits and cost savings. Consider that a January, 2017 survey revealed 45% of respondents were unsure whether a repeal of Obamacare would also mean a repeal of the ACA. Another third thought the two were different laws. Playing into ignorance, opponents used terms like “death panels” insinuating who would be worthy of medical care and who not, when in fact this provision of the ACA was for a patient and his or her doctor to have a conversation about end of life care and planning tools like a healthcare proxy or agent those insured may appoint to take over when he or she is no longer capable of making such decisions. Secondly, Americans everywhere need to understand that we could not stand or long survive if we embrace individualism. Whether it’s a medical team that takes care of us when we are in need, police who defend us (mostly), our military who safeguard us by land, sea and air 24 X 7, or veterans’ or Medicare or Social Security benefits it is all part of a survival philosophy and practice of one for all and all for one. When this web of social structure is fractured or dismantled we will all suffer the consequences – dire as they are likely to be. United we are strong, divided we are toast. Elephants know this. If we’re at least that smart, we should too by supporting and if we can, improving the ACA.

WHY IS THE ACA UNDER ATTACK?  Simply put, we have failed to educate an entire generation in subjects of history, philosophy, and sociology. Anecdotally, for over three decades now of throwing out history questions at cash registers wherever I find myself, I can’t recall hearing a single correct answer to basic questions like what happened in Hawaii in December of 1941? This abyss has consumed the knowledge of our American history starting with the events of April 19th, 1775 here in Lexington. There are two opposing philosophies in our nation; the first is individualism which summarized says I’m only responsible to myself. No laws should be made that infringe on my individual choices or how I chose to conduct my life. I am not my brother’s keeper! On the other hand, the philosophy of the greater good is that we are stronger and safer when we focus on what’s good for the many, not what’s good for the few and we make policies and laws which improve the lot of the many. That’s democracy.

The notion that a large pool of citizens are getting some benefits from the greater good creates ire among individualists who hold a belief of “every man for himself” and who feel they should not have to fund a dime toward the lot of another. Do those who complain the loudest ever complain about the unemployment, Medicare, Social Security, VA or toll free benefits they’ve received? Probably not!  Do we want a nation united under principles that have made us a world leader and the oldest continuous democracy in world history?

Conclusion: Pulling the trigger on the ACA would invoke a “death spiral” whether by withholding funding or repealing protective regulations. It would be nothing short of a death sentence for thousands of Americans annually. From 2010-2013, the ACA prevented an estimated 50,000 deaths – about 1,000 in every state in the USA. Without the ACA, Americans will be sicker, health insurance costs will leap back to double digit increases, insurance companies will insure less and charge more. Also, emergency rooms will swell because over time, 24 million Americans will loose healthcare coverage. Last, let’s not forget that the federal deficit will spiral deeper and deeper into a sea of red without an ACA brake tapping effect. An America without the ACA is like a navy ship at sea with a skeleton crew; it’s highly vulnerable to being sunk. E pluribus Unum.


[2] States not adopting Medicaid Expansion to subsidize health insurance premiums often have varying limited options for low income individuals and families.

[3] According to a Harvard University study by health Economics Professor Benjamin Sommers found that states adopting M.E. were less likely to use ER care and thus costs. Further, uninsured rates dropped from 40% to 9% in Kentucky and 42% to 14% in Arkansas, two M.E. states.

[4] Wikipedia;

[5] Wikipedia;

The second edition is now available!

Power, purpose and prosperity is in your hands. Find it at Amazon Obamacare to Medicare in upcoming e-edition.

Tis Time to be Jolly – and Generous

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in Book Cover, Financial planning, Income planning, Income tax saving ideas and strategies., Philanthropy, Psychology of money, Taxes | Comments Off on Tis Time to be Jolly – and Generous

Wisdom precedes happiness and prosperity. Without it, even the most affluent will remain impoverished.

Wisdom precedes happiness and prosperity. Without it, even the most affluent will remain impoverished.

As we gather with families, cook up our most delicious and delightful recipes, savor at least the thought of our Thanksgiving gathering we no doubt will begin to think of the holidays ahead as a time of love and a time of giving perhaps because radios constantly blast the same old tried and true holiday songs, shops and streets are lined with likenesses of Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman and of course, reindeer. But giving shouldn’t be just around the holidays and it also needed be for only material things including white elephants, aka, the hot potato gifts that people are only too eager to pass along to the next poor bloke.
Giving is always in season: Giving can be for helping the poor put food on their tables, getting access to healthcare, transportation, paying the mortgage or rent when there’s an income shortage or supporting environmental and ecology works. Giving consistently even in small amounts can make a huge difference over time. Your dollars may be just the ones that tip the scale in the desired direction.
A tangible example: My wife and I, for example, financially supported the formation of a Maine Woods National Park for over twenty years. Just this year, thanks to Restore the North Woods, the Roxanne Quimby Foundation and many, many, supporters, President Obama declared the area a national monument, the Maine Woods and Waters. It is likely the most scenic national park east of the Mississippi river. Did our dollars finally tip the scales? Maybe, or maybe not, but it was a great cause because it benefits all Americans of all ages for all time without regard to where they came from.
Most giving is intangible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t truly enjoy the glow we feel knowing we have followed our values and done something good for our communities and our nation to make either or both a better place for all to live and have access to better lives. Now, let’s look at a most powerful yet most under used tactics for supporting our charities all across America. It’s called the Charitable IRA, a misnomer really, because it’s your old fashioned taxable IRA where instead of the owner taking a distribution directly to him or herself, the distribution is directly to a “qualified charity”. To see how it works please click on the American Association of Individual Investors link that follows. I am a long-time life member and I enjoyed reading this article because it was written so tightly and it covers all the basic facts. What it doesn’t say is how to do it. I’ll give you a three-step simple formula now. 1. Determine your RMD, or Required Minimum Distributions for the year you wish to donate. 2. Subtract this amount from your RMD to you. You now have your taxable RMD. 3. Plan to fill the income gap you just created by channeling former income to you to your charities with other income sources, like a tax-free Roth IRA or a partially taxed income stream like a variable annuity. Bingo, you have the same income but you are now supporting your charities probably more than ever dollar wise.
Remember, the IRA owner MUST BE at least age 71.5 at the time of distribution to qualify! That said, it is a great opportunity for families around the Thanksgiving table or the day after to plan philanthropic giving together. For example, younger folks could give to a family donor advised fund, DAV while older folks could give to favorite family charities. Both win because both get tax benefits and both have their philanthropic goals met. Food for thought before or after that Thanksgiving dinner so that we’re reminded that gratitude and giving are the right and left arms of the same being. Copy, past and read this at AAII.ORG and comment back on this blog about what you think of this article.


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Posted by on Sep 29, 2016 in Financial planning, Income planning, Life Planning, Psychology of money, Retirement | Comments Off on WOMEN STILL HAVE TWO JOBS AND ONE PAYCHECK


American women today have more diverse lives than ever. They are more highly educated and employed at ever higher percentages of the workforce. But for some, some things never change. Millions of women leave their day jobs to commute home to their second job – homemaking. One woman, Beverly, I advised for her financial planning put in full days as a general practitioner caring for folks with colds, aches, and performing check ups. When she laid down the stethoscope and picked up her car keys she knew she was one her way to beginning her oh so familiar second job of cooking and cleaning for the only other occupant of her household; her husband. Although her role as homemaker had not changed since the first month of their marriage even when her husband was unemployed for month-long stretches, she had negotiated for change unsuccessfully for almost as long. He felt they began their marriage with defined traditional roles at least in his mind and they should stick to them. After all, it had worked for over thirty years hadn’t it?

Life planning prompted Beverly to face a basic question: What do I want this day forward to be for me? “You’ve put your kids through college and you’re still scrubbing floors.” Is that your future or do you have another vision of what could be?” Just the thought of a different future made her tremble. Just thinking about changes she’d have to make terrified her. Over many sessions with me I encouraged her to make the changes she wanted to reach a future she thirsted for. Making the past her future grew scarier with time and it further motivated her. She needed to transform herself from homemaker to a self-actuated free spirit.

Snap forward ten years and we’ll find Beverly living in her own home now far away from her former self-imprisoned one. She’s divorced, free, and happy. She also left the old job that paid her about 30% less than her male peers for too many years and she found employment and flexible hours she liked far more. This new work significantly boosted her Social Security income in later years. With 100% of her male peers pay she could now work 30% fewer hours and maintain her former income. Moreover, her family saw her often and she had new and good friends to boot. Her financial planning had paid off in spades. Now she had all the money she needed in her sixties she didn’t worry about or skimp on her finances. If she wanted to go out to dinner with friends or travel to Europe she did just that. She had turned her life around and she was happy. She now has a life that is richly rewarding and self directed. She no longer had to rush home to a second job, but she does clock in to continue living her dreams and sharing them with those she loves as each day unfolds.

What can we learn from this? First, we need a vision of who we are and what we want from life. Life planning can get you there. Second, we need to lay out the steps to get there and begin with the first one to put us on our way. For millions of women today, that means leaning in and being bold. I think the future belongs to the bold and the skilled. Beverly had oodles of both and she used it. You can too. Clock in and lean in and the full you will blossom like tulips in spring.

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It’s Time to Turn on the Lights With Church Trusts

Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 in Economics, Fiduciary Standard, Financial planning, Income planning, Investment ideas, Philanthropy, Psychology of Finance, Psychology of money, Wealth Management | Comments Off on It’s Time to Turn on the Lights With Church Trusts

Steven Wightman Certified Financial Planner Professional helps readers make the best of their lives through financial wisdom.

Steven Wightman
Certified Financial Planner Professional helps readers make the best of their lives through financial wisdom.

Recently, I sat down with church trustees and I listened intently as each presented a view point on what, if anything needed to be done about the multi-million dollar portfolio they had been entrusted with preservation and protection. Some focused on costs, others on performance in the past 12 months, others on flexibility, (sustainable investing), others on account management change. None seemed to have the big picture of how each factor influenced another and the portfolio as a whole.  In fact, they all seemed to miss the elephant in the room: Fiduciary oversight! The asset allocation consisting scores of investments including nearly every category of investment from managed partnerships to individual stocks and bonds to mutual funds Wall Street had to offer, was unjustifiably complex. Given that many of some many types of investments any investment fiduciary would  know that back end and sales fees slip silently to those who sell these investments to investment pools like trusts, I wondered who’s interests are really being served; those of the trust or those of the investment manager?

A clouded asset allocation is what was offered on a request for complete disclosure because the managers declined to share ticker symbols which made every one of the bucket full of securities non-traceable and non-trackable. In addition, the trust managers continue to wave the fiduciary flag. Hmm! Just how trustees could accept such opacity for so many years is actually not unusual. In fact, I think it is quite common. Reason? No one on the Board was an investment professional and no one was a highly investment trained fiduciary. No one seemed have a comprehensive overview of the legalities, complexities, protocols, investment savvy and time needed to effectively manage large sums of money. The result is like driving in the dark with no headlights. You can’t see where you are going and you are far more likely to cause damage along the way.

It’s imperative to understand that Investment advisers who are not your fiduciary have no obligation or responsibility to do well by you, the client. Instead, their interest has always been and continues to be to do well for themselves. If you do not get this principle, chances are huge hunks of your past, current and future returns will go somewhere other than into your pockets.  Some of this will change in January, 2017 under the new “Fiduciary Rule” – but that will only apply to qualified retirement accounts, meaning those that provide some sort of tax advantage. Hence, this rule does not apply to non-retirement accounts like church trusts.

I suggested something new: Hire an investment professional fiduciary bound only to the interests of the trust and its overseers to analyze the asset allocation, suggest changes, and write a comprehensive report for the benefit of the trust. I explained that one mistake today could cost the trust far more than any one-time fee or compensation paid to a fiduciary – even in the short run. With such a report and insight, the trustees would have the knowledge and power to best match the goals and limitations of the trust to real world translucent results. Although counter to today’s realities as reported in the Boston Globe recently by Sasha Pfeiffer, I would hope the same fiduciary standards of care for all philanthropies and trusts – but I guess I’m only dreaming once again. Today’s levels of Institutional Investment greed would make the world’s worst historical pandemic look microscopic in comparison. Invoking and advocating the Fiduciary Standard is the best shield to protect our own interests and the interests of the public at large.

The second edition is now available!

Power, purpose and prosperity within reach today. Get it at Amazon