The RPG  Planner

A fresh and simplified perspective on personal finance topics

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Plan Right                      

  • The Dow is a Bad Accident of History.  Our December blog post explains why the Dow Jones Industrial Average is an accident of history that should have gone the way of 8-tracks or New Coke and why ignoring it will make you a more sophisticated investor.  
  • Pregnancy and Voluntary Short-Term Disability Insurance.  Our latest Astute Angle post explains how most people don't understand that short-term disability insurance pays maternity leave benefits for normal child birth. As a result, they ignore an extremely valuable benefit.
  • How Does a Health Savings Account Work?  RPG Advisor Jason Lina is described in this Yahoo Finance article as a "huge advocate of HSA Plans" and explains why they're so beneficial for high income earners.     

Around the Web


Investment Commentary

It is worth a reminder that 2016 began as the worst year ever for the stock market.  Worst.  Ever.  The S&P 500 lost 10.5% in the first 28 trading days and foreign stocks were down more.  RBS issued a notice to all its clients in mid-January warning of a "cataclysmic year ahead" and advising that they "sell everything".  Every major media outlet ran with the warning and other "experts" gravely warned of imminent recession or a market  crash, inspiring more fears on top of a falling stock market.

Given the recency, few need a reminder of the strength on which the year concluded.  US stocks gained 5.8% in the final two months of 2016.  Global stocks added 2.9% in November and December to finish the year with a 7.9% gain.  So much for the certain market crash of 2016, imminent recession, or the old saying, "As January goes, so does the market."

All told, 2016 was a solid year for stocks and a choppy but positive year for bonds.  Our quarterly investment letter will describe the current environment in more detail and you can click here to view our market snapshot which features market returns and economic metrics. 
As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about the markets or your portfolio. 


Revisit 401(k), IRA, HSA, and Other Retirement Plan Contributions.  The start of the new year is a good opportunity to review your retirement savings plan and to adjust automated savings.  Wise planning suggests making IRA, 401(k), and other tax advantaged contributions as early in the year as possible to get the most tax benefit.  
  • 2017 deferral limits for 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans remains at $18,000 for individuals under age 50 and $24,000 if you will be age 50 or older in 2017.  
  • 2017 IRA contribution limits are $5,500 for individuals under age 50 and $6,500 if age 50 or older.
  • HSA contribution limits in 2017 are $6,750 for families and $3,400 for individuals.  Individuals over age 55 can contribute an additional $1,000.
Quarterly Estimated Taxes.  January 17th is the deadline for making the final 2016 quarterly estimated tax payment.

Update Your Tax Withholding.  Remember to adjust your tax withholding, if necessary, to ensure that you are not over-withholding in 2017.  The growing threat of tax related identity theft has become an important reason not to over-withhold taxes in recent years and now the IRS is even encouraging people to adjust their withholding.

Make 2017 Backdoor Roth Contributions.  While the opportunity still exists, those who make too much to qualify for regular Roth IRA contributions should consider making backdoor Roth IRA contributions

Consider Making 529 Plan Contributions.  The new calendar year presents an opportunity for parents and grandparents to fund 529 accounts and take advantage of state tax deductions in many states (including Georgia where the deduction is now $4,000 per beneficiary per year).  Even parents with children in college can still take advantage of the tax deduction by running tuition payments through a 529 Plan.  

Ask Us Anything

We're starting a new section of our newsletter where we answer one question each month about a financial topic.  It could be a question about insurance, investing, taxes, personal finance, or anything else financial.  Have a good question for us?  Use the button below to submit a question and we will try to answer it. 
Ask Us Anything

Fun Stuff and Free Resources

Free refills at Starbucks - who knew?  Yes, it is a long-standing and little known program that only requires use of a Starbucks card or the mobile app.

Amazon terminated their price protection policy in 2016 but you can still get the benefit if prices drop after you purchase an item with apps like Earny.

From Fastcompany, 25 incredibly useful free sites and services that are likely unknown to toy

RPG News and Notes 

  • To continue a tradition of honoring the Christmas spirit of giving, Resource Planning Group made a donation, in honor of our clients, to Camp Twin Lakes.  This gift will sponsor a cabin for ten children to spend a week at the camp in 2017.
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