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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

How to Navigate Retirement in the 21st Century

February 19, 2014 10:18 pm

While the world is still feeling the long ripples of the economic meltdown that began six years ago, our economic institutions remain “too big to fail” – at least in the minds of  millions of retired Americans and those soon to join their ranks, says veteran financial advisor Curt Whipple. 

“That’s what we see when we review their retirement portfolios,” says Whipple, a Certified Wealth Strategist, Certified Estate Planner and CEO of C. Curtis Financial Group. He recently published “Retiree Lifeline! How to Get Government Out of Your Pocket,” (ccurtisfinancial.com), a retirement planning guide.

“I see it all the time: a new client comes in with what they believe to be a ‘diverse’ portfolio. While it may be diverse in terms of Wall Street holdings, a solid retirement plan also requires diversity outside of a system that’s ‘too big to fail,’ which could fail yet again.”

When Wall Street falls, it shouldn’t mean that Main Street must as well. Whipple outlines the three kinds of money retirees should have available for enjoying the golden years with peace of mind.

• Red money … can be defined as that which is tied to Wall Street, by far the most popular kind of investment, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds. “I’ve been looking at the accounts of new clients for nearly three decades, and on average, 92 percent of their retirement plan is based in these investments,” he says. “That’s risky, especially as you get closer to retirement age or once you retire. You don’t want 92 percent of your retirement premised on that kind of potential volatility.”

• Blue money … is often referred to as “alternative investments,” which typically include Real Estate Trusts (REITS), equipment leasing programs, precious metals such as gold and silver, high grade rare coins and collectibles. “This ‘color’ of money has been an important portion of the pie for success in my clients’ investments; they were essentially unaffected by our recent economic collapse because they were so well diversified.” This is a highly advantageous part of a portfolio because it historically creates good income with a low correlation to the stock market.

• Green money … is accounts that come with a guarantee of some sort. They are either backed by the FDIC, the Legal Reserve System, which is supported by the insurance industry, or insurance companies themselves. “Not all wealth is created equally, and this is the safest kind of money you can have in your retirement plan,” he says. Green money includes investments in one’s portfolio that have guarantees to not lose one’s principal and, sometimes, one’s earnings.

“Investment in Wall Street should be much lower for those who are either retired or are about to be retired,” Whipple says. “Depending on a person’s age, a good investment portfolio could include about 36 percent red money, 32 percent blue money and 32 percent green money.” 

Tags:

7 Tips for Protecting Your Identity & Money

February 19, 2014 10:18 pm

At least 110 million consumers were affected by the hack involving Target and Neiman Marcus retailers. Whether or not millions more will have their identities manipulated and finances ruined within the coming months due to more breaches of security at other stores is anyone’s guess, says identity theft recovery expert Scott A. Merritt.

“By necessity, I became an expert on identity theft. My information was stolen in 2006, and in repairing the damage, I learned some not-so-obvious ways we can all protect against identity theft in the first place,” says Merritt, CEO of Merritt & Associates (scottamerritt.com) and author of "Identity Theft Do's and Don'ts."

Merritt’s problems began quickly. While disputing financial charges and dealing with resulting business problems, in 2007 he was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested on a false outstanding felony warrant. He immediately knew why.

“I had to enlist my U.S. congressman and convince the state police, NCIC, FBI and Secret Service that I didn’t commit the felonies. For a few years, I had to prove that the prints did not match the false record in question. After legal action, however, I was able to have this corrected.”

Unfortunately, the millions affected by the recent hacks may be dealing with similar repercussions in the years ahead, he says.

Before you become a victim of identity theft, Merritt offers seven ways to guard against it.

• Understand how and where it happens. Identity theft is like being robbed when you are away from home; most thefts occur in places where you do business every day. Either a place of business is robbed, a bad employee acts improperly or a hacker breaches the office through the computer.

• Secure your wallet’s information. Photocopy everything in your wallet: photos, credit cards (front and back), membership cards – everything. Put the copies in the order the cards are arranged in your wallet, staple the pictures and place them in a strong box or safe.

• Make sure your information is consistent. For all of your identity and financial documents, make absolutely sure, to the smallest detail, that all of your personal information is accurate and consistent! Discrepancies such as using your middle initial on some documents, and not others, or having different addresses, can wreck havoc in proving your identity, and can compromise your credit score.

• Secure your digital habits and data. Change your passwords at least twice a year on a non-scheduled basis – don’t be predictable. Have a strong firewall if you shop online, and only access sites that are protected by a strong firewall and high industry standards. Access accounts of a financial nature only from your personal computer.

• Protect your banking information. While in the bank, keep account numbers and other data out of sight, and avoid stating account numbers, Social Security numbers and similar information out loud. When planning a bank visit, have items such as deposits and withdrawal slips prepared in advance.

• Account for your interactions with vendors. Every time you speak to someone with whom you do business, write down the time, date, name and the purpose or outcome of the call. If an identity theft occurs on the vendor’s end, you will be able to reference these prior conversations effectively. Be sure to note any animosity or reluctance from the vendor.

• Don’t carry around your birth certificate or Social Security card. Unless it’s necessary, keep those vital items in a safe, or at least a firebox. If you know someone is going to need a copy of your tax returns or your driver’s license, for example, make the copies ahead of time. This avoids the need for a firm’s employee to leave the room with such information.

“Of course, you can greatly reduce being a victim of such recent hacks that occurred at the major retailers by using cash more often,” he says. “But if you’re going to use credit, use a card from a national bank or a national credit union and never a debit card, no exceptions.”

Tags:

Some of the Hottest & Coolest New Appliances Debut at CES

February 19, 2014 10:18 pm

The reviews are in, and I am intrigued to see home appliances nudging out fancy entertainment systems for some prime attention at the 2014 International CES (Consumer Electronic Show) which took over Las Vegas in mid-January.

Haven't heard of CES? It is an international showcase owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the technology trade association representing the $203 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. In other words, the people who get you all your stuff!

So in the next few reports we'll scope out some of the chore-easing innovations being dished for your kitchen at the 2014 CES.

With insights from some of the world's top professional chefs, a new refrigerator, an electric slide-in range, and one of the most buzzworthy dishwasher cleaning innovations in the past 40 years were among the Samsung appliances on display at the CES

Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier used the 2014 CES arena to announce it has become the first such company to be accepted into Apple's MFi licensing program. Haier's 'Tianzun' cabinet air conditioning unit is the first appliance to carry an MFi designation, integrating it to iPhone, iPad or other mobile ports.

Whirlpool showcased select innovative designs at CES - from an interactive, multi-purpose cooktop surface, to a smart refrigerator that "learns" a family’s habits, to custom-designed laundry pairs and microwaves inspired by consumer input.

CES also saw LG introducing its Studio collection of kitchen accessories, including ranges, wall ovens, cooktops, microwaves, and dishwashers featuring new adaptive designs and cutting edge technologies.

Dacor, manufacturer of ultra-premium kitchen appliances, also debuted its first series of “smart” appliances at CES this year as well. We'll start zooming in on a bunch of these hot new cooking innovations in our next report - so stay tuned.

Tags:

Word of the Day

February 19, 2014 10:18 pm

Nonconforming use. Use of property that is permitted to continue after a zoning ordinance prohibiting it has been passed.

Tags:

Q: How Do I Respond to a Low-Ball Offer?

February 19, 2014 10:18 pm

A: Let your agent know it is too low to warrant a counteroffer and that you are willing to negotiate but only once a more reasonable offer is made. Ask the agent if the buyer was shown comparable market values of similar homes that have recently sold in your area; and ask if the buyer was ever properly qualified. You do not have to settle for less if you are realistic about your chances of getting more.  

Tags:

How to Navigate Retirement in the 21st Century

February 18, 2014 6:06 pm

While the world is still feeling the long ripples of the economic meltdown that began six years ago, our economic institutions remain “too big to fail” – at least in the minds of  millions of retired Americans and those soon to join their ranks, says veteran financial advisor Curt Whipple. 

“That’s what we see when we review their retirement portfolios,” says Whipple, a Certified Wealth Strategist, Certified Estate Planner and CEO of C. Curtis Financial Group. He recently published “Retiree Lifeline! How to Get Government Out of Your Pocket,” (ccurtisfinancial.com), a retirement planning guide.

“I see it all the time: a new client comes in with what they believe to be a ‘diverse’ portfolio. While it may be diverse in terms of Wall Street holdings, a solid retirement plan also requires diversity outside of a system that’s ‘too big to fail,’ which could fail yet again.”

When Wall Street falls, it shouldn’t mean that Main Street must as well. Whipple outlines the three kinds of money retirees should have available for enjoying the golden years with peace of mind.

• Red money … can be defined as that which is tied to Wall Street, by far the most popular kind of investment, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds. “I’ve been looking at the accounts of new clients for nearly three decades, and on average, 92 percent of their retirement plan is based in these investments,” he says. “That’s risky, especially as you get closer to retirement age or once you retire. You don’t want 92 percent of your retirement premised on that kind of potential volatility.”

• Blue money … is often referred to as “alternative investments,” which typically include Real Estate Trusts (REITS), equipment leasing programs, precious metals such as gold and silver, high grade rare coins and collectibles. “This ‘color’ of money has been an important portion of the pie for success in my clients’ investments; they were essentially unaffected by our recent economic collapse because they were so well diversified.” This is a highly advantageous part of a portfolio because it historically creates good income with a low correlation to the stock market.

• Green money … is accounts that come with a guarantee of some sort. They are either backed by the FDIC, the Legal Reserve System, which is supported by the insurance industry, or insurance companies themselves. “Not all wealth is created equally, and this is the safest kind of money you can have in your retirement plan,” he says. Green money includes investments in one’s portfolio that have guarantees to not lose one’s principal and, sometimes, one’s earnings.

“Investment in Wall Street should be much lower for those who are either retired or are about to be retired,” Whipple says. “Depending on a person’s age, a good investment portfolio could include about 36 percent red money, 32 percent blue money and 32 percent green money.” 

Tags:

7 Tips for Protecting Your Identity & Money

February 18, 2014 6:06 pm

At least 110 million consumers were affected by the hack involving Target and Neiman Marcus retailers. Whether or not millions more will have their identities manipulated and finances ruined within the coming months due to more breaches of security at other stores is anyone’s guess, says identity theft recovery expert Scott A. Merritt.

“By necessity, I became an expert on identity theft. My information was stolen in 2006, and in repairing the damage, I learned some not-so-obvious ways we can all protect against identity theft in the first place,” says Merritt, CEO of Merritt & Associates (scottamerritt.com) and author of "Identity Theft Do's and Don'ts."

Merritt’s problems began quickly. While disputing financial charges and dealing with resulting business problems, in 2007 he was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested on a false outstanding felony warrant. He immediately knew why.

“I had to enlist my U.S. congressman and convince the state police, NCIC, FBI and Secret Service that I didn’t commit the felonies. For a few years, I had to prove that the prints did not match the false record in question. After legal action, however, I was able to have this corrected.”

Unfortunately, the millions affected by the recent hacks may be dealing with similar repercussions in the years ahead, he says.

Before you become a victim of identity theft, Merritt offers seven ways to guard against it.

• Understand how and where it happens. Identity theft is like being robbed when you are away from home; most thefts occur in places where you do business every day. Either a place of business is robbed, a bad employee acts improperly or a hacker breaches the office through the computer.

• Secure your wallet’s information. Photocopy everything in your wallet: photos, credit cards (front and back), membership cards – everything. Put the copies in the order the cards are arranged in your wallet, staple the pictures and place them in a strong box or safe.

• Make sure your information is consistent. For all of your identity and financial documents, make absolutely sure, to the smallest detail, that all of your personal information is accurate and consistent! Discrepancies such as using your middle initial on some documents, and not others, or having different addresses, can wreck havoc in proving your identity, and can compromise your credit score.

• Secure your digital habits and data. Change your passwords at least twice a year on a non-scheduled basis – don’t be predictable. Have a strong firewall if you shop online, and only access sites that are protected by a strong firewall and high industry standards. Access accounts of a financial nature only from your personal computer.

• Protect your banking information. While in the bank, keep account numbers and other data out of sight, and avoid stating account numbers, Social Security numbers and similar information out loud. When planning a bank visit, have items such as deposits and withdrawal slips prepared in advance.

• Account for your interactions with vendors. Every time you speak to someone with whom you do business, write down the time, date, name and the purpose or outcome of the call. If an identity theft occurs on the vendor’s end, you will be able to reference these prior conversations effectively. Be sure to note any animosity or reluctance from the vendor.

• Don’t carry around your birth certificate or Social Security card. Unless it’s necessary, keep those vital items in a safe, or at least a firebox. If you know someone is going to need a copy of your tax returns or your driver’s license, for example, make the copies ahead of time. This avoids the need for a firm’s employee to leave the room with such information.

“Of course, you can greatly reduce being a victim of such recent hacks that occurred at the major retailers by using cash more often,” he says. “But if you’re going to use credit, use a card from a national bank or a national credit union and never a debit card, no exceptions.”

Tags:

Some of the Hottest & Coolest New Appliances Debut at CES

February 18, 2014 6:06 pm

The reviews are in, and I am intrigued to see home appliances nudging out fancy entertainment systems for some prime attention at the 2014 International CES (Consumer Electronic Show) which took over Las Vegas in mid-January.

Haven't heard of CES? It is an international showcase owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the technology trade association representing the $203 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. In other words, the people who get you all your stuff!

So in the next few reports we'll scope out some of the chore-easing innovations being dished for your kitchen at the 2014 CES.

With insights from some of the world's top professional chefs, a new refrigerator, an electric slide-in range, and one of the most buzzworthy dishwasher cleaning innovations in the past 40 years were among the Samsung appliances on display at the CES

Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier used the 2014 CES arena to announce it has become the first such company to be accepted into Apple's MFi licensing program. Haier's 'Tianzun' cabinet air conditioning unit is the first appliance to carry an MFi designation, integrating it to iPhone, iPad or other mobile ports.

Whirlpool showcased select innovative designs at CES - from an interactive, multi-purpose cooktop surface, to a smart refrigerator that "learns" a family’s habits, to custom-designed laundry pairs and microwaves inspired by consumer input.

CES also saw LG introducing its Studio collection of kitchen accessories, including ranges, wall ovens, cooktops, microwaves, and dishwashers featuring new adaptive designs and cutting edge technologies.

Dacor, manufacturer of ultra-premium kitchen appliances, also debuted its first series of “smart” appliances at CES this year as well. We'll start zooming in on a bunch of these hot new cooking innovations in our next report - so stay tuned.

Tags:

Word of the Day

February 18, 2014 6:06 pm

Nonconforming use. Use of property that is permitted to continue after a zoning ordinance prohibiting it has been passed.

Tags:

Q: How Do I Respond to a Low-Ball Offer?

February 18, 2014 6:06 pm

A: Let your agent know it is too low to warrant a counteroffer and that you are willing to negotiate but only once a more reasonable offer is made. Ask the agent if the buyer was shown comparable market values of similar homes that have recently sold in your area; and ask if the buyer was ever properly qualified. You do not have to settle for less if you are realistic about your chances of getting more.  

Tags:




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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440 - PERKASIE

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