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Today's Brief focuses on some powerful financial and budget planning options available to IRA owners. It was inspired, in part, by a recent blog on Health Savings Accounts  by our friend Ryan Smith of Stonegate Financial. IRAs are a powerful tax-deferred saving vehicle owned by many as the result of rollovers from other retirement plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and other pension plans, or they were started outright to begin retirement savings in earnest. While IRAs have been around for decades, their features and options change often with new budgets and IRS rulings.

With the pep rallies concluded, Democratic and Republican captains and their teams are charging onto the field to commence a battle for the White House unlike any other. The game plans couldn't be more different on issues like immigration, regulations and taxes, but on trade there doesn't seem to be any line of scrimmage at all. But on this one, Trump is on offense and Clinton, defense.

Imagination is "the greatest creative force in the universe," claimed Albert Einstein. The keys at my fingertips, the computer transforming the clicks into hundreds of 0's and 1's, the copper lines and fibers of light delivering them to the device in front of you with its thousands of tiny light emitting diodes that project the letters you are reading, all started in the imagination. In fact, as you look around, you might be hard pressed to find anything within your reach that doesn't have its origins in the imaginings of creative people.

unnamed3 Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those murdered and maimed in Nice, France last night during their celebration of Bastille Day. Since BREXIT, US equity markets have come roaring back and then some. Increasing confidence that the Fed will pause their interest rate increases, a stronger-than-expected jobs report in the US on Friday, and the speedy transfer of power in Great Britain to Theresa May as Prime Minister have all added to the optimism driving stocks higher. The S&P 500 has had four record-high closes this week, yet other indexes have not, notably the Nasdaq, which remains almost 4% below last year's high. It means that most stocks, and significantly many that have driven our economy of late (technology) remain off their highs.

sunset-summer-golden-hour-paul-filitchkinOne of the major goals we often help clients plan for is financial independence.  Imagine the freedom of knowing you do not have to work.  You would be free to start the company you have always dreamed of, serve an organization you are passionate about regardless of pay or take an extended trip with your family or friends.  Maybe you would worry less about money and the minutia of your daily finances.

The latest reminder of how divided we are around the world and how poorly our political systems understand and have adapted comes this morning as British citizens voted yesterday 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. The referendum itself was the result of a risky campaign pledge Prime Minister David Cameron made in order to gain re-election. He calculated the referendum was the only way he could placate anti-EU Conservatives in his party, while holding off the growing threat that the U.K Independence Party might fracture his majority in Parliament.

Are your options wide enough? Have you ever noticed when filming activities like children playing, school plays, or sporting events, how difficult it is to capture the whole story? There's so much going on outside the tight focus of the camera's lens we can't possibly capture it all. Regrettably, the phenomenon also explains a significant part of our lives and how we make decisions and plans. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Decisive, use teenagers to illustrate how narrow our frames of reference can be for most of our decisions, even the most important ones. They are called single-option decisions. For example, 'should I break up with my boyfriend or not?' is a single option decision.

A frequent question from both young and old clients is “Will I get my benefits?” You might be surprised to learn that the Social Security Program is not as bad off as you might think. That said, the program will be changing in the next 20 years, so it behooves the thoughtful planner of every age to consider and be ready for possible worst cases, while there's time to replace possible gaps in retirement income.

The question ‘what-if?’ can be a source of nagging worry, or it can be a proactive tool for improving preparedness and confidence. How we choose to address the question has huge impact on our lifestyle. If we allow ourselves to worry about something, it is said we spend our energy twice; first by worrying today and later when, or if, the thing we worry about actually happens. Corrie ten Boom describes the futility this way; “worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength." Our beloved Mark Twain recognizes how often we do it, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”  And Dan Zadra describes its creative waste, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.”