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Financial Ink – Editorial Calendar

A Newsletter for General Audiences

March 2018

$2,782: Average tax refund for the 2017 filing season.
Robots: Friend or Foe?
Economists from top U.S. universities were asked to assess the impact that the rising use of robots and artificial intelligence may have on workers in the United States and other advanced economies. Could these advances lead to greater unemployment or benefits from increased productivity that could help compensate workers for lost wages? Accompanying chart illustrates their responses.
Your Home and the Big Picture
In 2017, a widely cited index of national home prices finally reached the peak level set in July 2006 before the housing crisis and the Great Recession. This article presents ideas for readers to consider about how owning a home fits into their broader financial picture.
Dividend Investing: Small Payments Can Boost Returns
Dividends have long been popular with retirees and others who are looking for regular income, but focusing on dividends could be appropriate for almost any investor. This article explains how reinvesting dividends to purchase additional shares can increase total returns.
Pick Your Plastic: Debit or Credit?
Americans use debit cards more often than credit cards, but the total value and average value of credit card transactions are higher than those of debit card transactions. This article outlines some pros and cons for the use of each type of card.

February 2018

35¢: Average cost for the IRS to collect $100 in taxes in FY 2016.
Rising Health Insurance Costs
In 2017, the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance was $6,690 for single coverage and $18,764 for family coverage. Accompanying chart illustrates average premium increases for family coverage over the past 10 years.
Four Financial Numbers You Should Know
This article describes four financial numbers that readers should understand for themselves and that could potentially improve their financial situations: (1) retirement plan contribution rate, (2) credit score, (3) debt-to-income ratio, and (4) net worth.
It’s Tax Time — Prepare with Care
Many Americans dread doing their taxes, and part of that dread may be fear of an audit. This article offers some simple guidelines to help reduce not only stress but the likelihood of an audit.
TIPS for Inflation
The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates signals its belief that inflation is approaching the 2% target rate. One way to help protect investment dollars from inflation is by purchasing Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

January 2018

520,000 to 980,000: Estimated number of vehicles destroyed or damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Searching for a Better You
Only about 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, but many more use the Internet to research how to accomplish their goals. Accompanying chart presents the most popular Internet searches related to New Year’s resolutions.
Options for Inherited IRAs
IRS rules for inheriting retirement accounts are complex, and an uninformed decision could result in unexpected taxes and penalties. This article provides an overview of IRA distribution rules and options for surviving spouses and nonspouse beneficiaries.
Balancing with Bond Funds
An appropriate balance of stocks and bonds is fundamental to building a solid portfolio, but individual bonds are expensive and usually inaccessible to investors who participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans. This article explains the fundamentals of bond mutual funds and bond ETFs, and how they can help balance a portfolio.
How Long Should You Keep Financial Records?
The beginning of the year is also the start of tax filing season, so it’s a great time to organize records and discard old documents to make room for new ones. This article offers guidelines on how long to keep specific types of records.

December 2017

12.8%: Average percentage of total household expenditures spent on food in 2016.
Retirement Savings on the Rise
Average account balances in 401(k) plans and IRAs reached record levels in 2017. This chart compares average account balances in 2012, 2016, and 2017.
International Investing: Opportunities Overseas?
Emerging markets and developing economies account for about three-fourths of global growth, and growth prospects are looking up for more advanced economies outside the United States. This article explores some of the risks and opportunities of international investing.
An Introduction to Trusts
A properly constructed trust can serve many purposes for families — and not just for the wealthy. This article offers basic information about trusts, including testamentary trusts, living trusts, and special-purpose trusts.
Keeping Savings on Track with a Spousal IRA
Time out of the workforce to help care for children can put the caregiving spouse at a disadvantage when it comes to retirement savings. This article outlines IRS rules that allow a working spouse to contribute to an IRA for a spouse who earns little or no income.

November 2017

$4.6 trillion: Estimated amount needed to repair and upgrade U.S. infrastructure.
Health Care Tops Financial Concerns
In mid 2017, 17% of Americans cited health-care costs as the top financial problem facing their families. This chart shows the percentage who cited each of the top 10 financial concerns.
Consider a Roth for Tax-Free Retirement Income
A Roth IRA or designated Roth account in an employer-sponsored plan can provide tax-free retirement income and flexibility when making withdrawals. This article explains how Roth plans differ from traditional IRAs and workplace retirement plans, and the basic rules for withdrawals, conversions, and recharacterizations.
Market Measures: Beyond the Dow
There are hundreds of indexes that track various categories of investments. This article describes five indexes that are often used as benchmarks: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq Composite, the Russell 2000, and the Wilshire 5000.
Celebrate the Season — and Keep Records
Many Americans turn their thoughts to charity during the winter holidays in the spirit of giving — and to obtain an end-of-year tax deduction. This article outlines IRS regulations for deducting charitable contributions.

October 2017

Quick VIEW
More Young Workers with College Degrees
Millennial workers in their mid- to late-20s are more likely to have a college degree than workers of the same age in previous generations. Accompanying chart shows the percentage of young workers with college degrees across four generations: millennials in 2016, Gen Xers in 2000, baby boomers in 1985, and the Silent Generation in 1964.
54%: Percentage of U.S. adults who owned stocks in 2017, down from 62% in the years prior to the financial crisis.
All-in-One Funds: More Than Meets the Eye
Interest in professionally managed “all-in-one” funds has grown rapidly, and many investors may own such funds without realizing it. This article explains some of the similarities and differences in the two most popular all-in-one funds: target-date funds and lifestyle funds.
PPO or HDHP? Making Health Insurance Choices
More than half of large U.S. companies offer high-deductible health plans, and they may give employees a choice between an HDHP and a traditional PPO plan. This article outlines the similarities and differences between these two types of health insurance plans and 2017 and 2018 contribution limits for health savings accounts.
FAFSA in the Fall for Lower Stress
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid used to be a “stressfest” after the winter holidays, as parents and students scrambled to complete the form with still-unfinished tax returns. New rules adopted in 2016 enable families to begin the FAFSA earlier using tax returns from two years prior to the academic year.

September 2017

Quick VIEW
Consumer Complaints
The Federal Trade Commission received more than 3 million consumer complaints in 2016. Accompanying chart illustrates the seven top complaint categories.
79%: Estimated percentage of U.S. workers who have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan or similar defined contribution plan. Only about 41% of them are contributing to their plan.
Value and Growth: Investing Styles
The terms value and growth are used to describe different investing styles and to construct indexes, mutual funds, and ETFs. This article explains the difference between value stocks and growth stocks and how they can work together in a diversification strategy.
Picturing Retirement
A 2017 poll found that 54% of workers were confident they would have enough money for a comfortable retirement, the highest percentage since 2004. Saving can seem abstract, and concrete goals might inspire workers to take appropriate steps to help their retirement picture come to life.
Birthday Opportunities
This quiz tests readers’ knowledge of the financial benefits and responsibilities related to certain age milestones between 50 and 70½.

August 2017

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Deeper into the Red
Annual federal budget deficits are projected to triple over the next 30 years, assuming revenue and spending laws remain the same and GDP continues to grow 2% annually. Accompanying chart shows projected average annual deficits as a percentage of GDP for decades through 2047.
$17.2 billion: Estimated state sales taxes lost on Internet purchases in 2016.
Yours, Mine, and Ours: Financial Tips for Blended Families
Combining finances can be complicated for any couple, but the challenges become more complex the second time around, especially when children are involved. This article explores some financial issues that blended families may want to consider and clarify, including debts, college tuition, wills, and beneficiary forms.
Buying and Selling: Trading Basics
The NYSE Group averaged more than 7.4 million trades per day in 2016. Many of these trades are more complex than most investors need to consider, but it may be helpful for readers to understand these basic terms and types of trades: bid and ask prices, market order, limit order, stop-loss order, and stop-limit order.
Insuring Your College Student
Sending a student off to college can be hectic — and insurance might not be at the top of the to-do list. But every college student has insurance needs (medical, auto, personal property) that should be addressed.

July 2017

Quick VIEW
Bigger Loans for Better Wheels
The average amount financed for a new car has increased sharply over the last two and a half years. This chart shows average amounts since 2008.
0.1%: Percentage of gross domestic product that the U.S. government spends on job training, job search assistance, and other job transition programs to help displaced workers.
401(k) and IRA: A Double Savings Opportunity
Employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs offer tax-advantaged opportunities to save for retirement, but they are not mutually exclusive. This article focuses on both types of accounts, their annual contribution limits, and how they could work together to help build retirement savings.
Do You Have Enough Life Insurance?
Two out of five U.S. households have no life insurance protection, and many households who do have insurance think they need a higher level of coverage. This article explains the advantages of an individual policy and discusses the differences between term life insurance and permanent life insurance.
Deficit Trading: The Import/Export Imbalance
The U.S. trade deficit is likely to receive more attention as the new administration considers policies that might affect international trade relationships. This article provides some basic facts to help readers understand the issues behind the headlines, and how China factors into the trade deficit.

June 2017

Quick VIEW
Fed Earnings
Residual earnings of each Federal Reserve Bank are returned to the U.S. Treasury annually after meeting operations costs, paying dividends, and retaining certain required funds. Accompanying chart shows Federal Reserve distributions to the Treasury over the last decade.
123456: Most common password in 2016, used by nearly 17% of accounts, according to a study of 10 million stolen passwords.
Investing in Real Estate
In September 2016, real estate investment trusts gained new attention when S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI created a new sector for equity REITs. This article explains the basics of equity REITs and the benefits and risks of adding them to an investment portfolio.
When a Saver Marries a Spender, Every Penny Counts
When one spouse is a penny pincher and the other is loose with the family purse strings, it may be helpful to learn more about the other’s point of view. This article offers guidelines to help facilitate financial discussions.
Bon Voyage! International Travel Tips
In 2016, Americans made almost 25 million international trips during the months of June, July, and August. This article offers tips to help keep travelers’ trips on track.

May 2017

Quick VIEW
Work After Working?
In a survey of “mass affluent” Americans, 83% of millennials said they planned to work in retirement. Accompanying chart shows the percentage of workers, by generation, who expect to work in retirement compared with the percentage of retirees who are currently working.
66%: Percentage of female employees who believe it is “very important” to find a job that allows them to make the most of their natural talents, along with their knowledge and skills.
Investing in Your Values
A large majority of young, high-net-worth investors want to make a positive social impact with their investments. In 2016, more than one out of five professionally invested dollars was invested based on principles of sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing, which is the focus of this article.
Do You Need Disability Insurance?
More than seven out of 10 working Americans believe that most people need disability insurance, yet only one out of three actually has disability insurance protection. This article explains how an individual disability income policy could provide much-needed income in the event of an accident or illness.
Going Mobile
The United States has been slow to adopt mobile payments technology, but 2016 represented a big step forward and growth is expected to accelerate over the next few years. This article provides an overview of two types of mobile payments: proximity payments and peer-to-peer payments.

April 2017

Quick VIEW
Are You Confident?
The percentage of workers who are confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement has risen steadily since 2013. Accompanying chart shows percentage who are somewhat and very confident.
658 million: Number of unused vacation days by American workers in 2015; about one-third of these days were lost at the end of the year.
Mutual Benefits: Funds to Pursue Your Goals
About 94 million Americans – 43.6% of U.S. households – owned mutual funds in 2016. This article provides an overview of nine different types of mutual funds, ranging from lower-risk money market funds to higher-risk aggressive growth funds.
The State of Social Security
Sixty-two percent of retirees report that Social Security is a major source of retirement income, while only 35% of workers expect the program to be a major source of income for them in retirement. This article outlines the current state of the Social Security program, including possible solutions to address the program’s projected shortfall.
Use Sense with Student Loans
According to a recent survey, 57% of millennials regret how much they borrowed for college. This article provides some guidelines before taking on debt and steps students have taken to make college more affordable.
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