Objective information about financial planning, investments, and retirement plans

What I’m Reading NFL Conference Championship Edition


Its conference championship weekend in the NFL. The winners of the two games on Sunday will play in two weeks in the Super Bowl.  The Indianapolis Colts play the New England Patriots in the late game.  The first game has my beloved Green Bay Packers visiting the defending champs the Seattle Seahawks.  A tough place to win so I’m hoping Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the team are up to the task.

While you are waiting for the game or if you are not into football here are a few financial articles I suggest for some good weekend financial reading:

Jim Blankenship tells us why Debt Consolidation Loans Don’t Work (But You Might Get it to Work For You!) at Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row.

Ryan Guina asks When Will I Get My Tax Refund? 2014 Tax Year Refund Schedule at Cash Money Life.

Mike Piper answers Why is Currency Risk Bad? at Oblivious Investor.

Barbara Friedberg discusses Monthly Pension Or Lump-Sum: Which Is Better? At Investopedia.

Josh Friedman writes Pimco’s Assets Declined 10% in Quarter After Gross Exit at Bloomberg.

Cliff Goldstein discusses The best time to start taking Social Security at Market Watch.

Alan Roth warns Non-Traded REITs – Warning, Danger Ahead on the AARP Blog.

I continue in my role as a contributor to Investopedia and here are my most recent articles for them:

Why Retirement Advice Is Better But Still Lacking

How To Explain Portfolio Rebalancing To Clients

What To Do When Your Client Behaves Badly

How Financial Advisors Can Help Gun-Shy Investors

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Let’s Go Packers!

Please feel free to contact me with your questions. 

Check out an online service like Personal Capital to manage all of your accounts all in one place.  Please check out our Resources page for more tools and services that you might find useful.


What I’m Reading NFL Wildcard Edition


Its Wild Card weekend, in plain English the first round of the NFL Playoffs.  The Carolina Panthers are on the verge of beating Arizona in game one.  I’m rooting for the hated Detroit Lions so that my Packers can face the Panthers next weekend at Lambeau Field.

Here are a few financial articles I suggest for some good weekend financial reading:

Ben Carlson shares Updating My Favorite Performance Chart  at his blog A Wealth of Common Sense.

Victor Reklaitis thinks the Big threat to your portfolio is overpaying for active funds, not being misled by index funds at Market Watch.

Mary Childs wrote Pimco Total Return Fund suffers worst year of redemptions in history at the Globe and Mail.

Barbara Friedberg shares her Top 5 Money Tips for 2015 at her blog Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.

Troy Onik offers Paying For College: 7 Myths And Mistakes Costing Families Thousands at Forbes.

Kay Bell writes Two giant lottery jackpots await lucky winners, tax collectors at her blog Don’t Mess with Taxes.

I continue in my role as a contributor to Investopedia and here is my most recent article for them:

Pros And Cons Of Annual Tax-Loss Harvesting

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Here’s hoping that 2015 is a year of health, happiness and prosperity for you and your family.  As far as the NFL playoffs its Let’s Go Packers!

What I’m Reading – Jay Cutler Superstar Edition


Far too much time on the local newscasts has been devoted to the demotion of quarterback Jay Cutler to backup for this week’s game against the Detroit Lions.  The Bears have had a dismal season and the very sub-par play of Cutler has been cited almost universally among fans and the media as a main cause.

What I’m Reading – Jay Cutler Superstar Edition

For those who don’t follow the NFL it should be noted that Cutler signed a huge contract extension just this past January that made him the highest paid quarterback in the league.  This means he makes more than Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to name a few.

As a finance blogger how could I refer to him as anything less than a superstar, a financial superstar to be precise?  His agent clearly did a masterful selling job on the Bears. This is likely why the Bears last great quarterback was a gentleman named Sid Luckman back in the 1940s.

Full disclosure I am an avid Green Bay Packers fan and love the dysfunction that is the Chicago Bears.

In the spirit of Jay Cutler’s superstar agent here are some financial articles that you might find interesting.

3 Reasons Not to Raid Your Retirement Accounts by Eric McWhinnie via Retirement Cheat Sheet.

Retirement vs College Saving in a Nutshell by Jim Blankenship at his blog Financial Ducks in a Row.

The World Economy In 2015 Will Carry Troubling Echoes Of The Late 1990s according to The Economist via Business Insider.

Opinion: The hidden truth about rebalancing your portfolio by Mark Hulbert via Marketwatch.

5 RMD Pitfalls to Avoid by Christine Benz via Morningstar.

Why Does Everybody Recommend Complex Portfolios? by Mike Piper at his blog Oblivious Investor.

14 Holiday Activities to Build Wealth and Memories by Barbara Friedberg at her blog Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.

I continue in my role as a contributor to Investopedia and here are my last three articles for them:

Is An Online Financial Advisor Right For You?

How To Manage A Cash Windfall

Tips For Managing Inflation In Retirement

Here’s hoping for a long Packers run through the playoffs.  Is that Jay Cutler I hear laughing all the way to the bank?

Check out an online service like Personal Capital to manage all of your accounts all in one place or purchase the latest version of Quicken.  Check out our Resources page for more tools and services that you might find useful.

Photo source:  Mike Shadle and Wikipedia

My Top 10 Most Read Posts of 2014


It’s hard to believe that 2014 is almost over.  I hope that it has been a good year for you and your families.

Readership here at The Chicago Financial Planner has increased every year since I started blogging back in 2009 for which I thank you my readers.  My hope is that some of the articles, whether written by me or by some of the excellent guest authors who have contributed their insights, have been useful and informative to you.

Here are my top 10 most read posts during 2014:

Life Insurance as a Retirement Savings Vehicle – A Good Idea?

4 Signs of a Lousy 401(k) Plan

Small Business Retirement Plans – SEP-IRA vs. Solo 401(k)

401(k) Fee Disclosure and the American Funds

My Thoughts on PBS Frontline The Retirement Gamble

Using Retirement Accounts to Pay Off Debt – A good Idea?

4 Reasons to Accept Your Company’s Buyout Offer

7 Retirement Savings Tips to Help Avoid Regret

Is a $100,000 a Year Retirement Doable?

5 Reasons to Consider a Solo 401(k)

Additionally I recently started writing for Investopedia, here is a link to my contributor page which includes links to all of my contributions to the site.

I want to thank all of my readers again.  I also invite you to contact me to ask any questions that you might have, to tell me what you like or don’t like about the site, and to suggest topics that you would like to see covered here in the future.

I hope that you and your family have a great holiday season.

What I’m Reading-Packers Reign Supreme Edition


It’s Cyber Monday (can you say contrived promotional event) and I have already been to O’Hare to drop my daughter off.  Amazing how crowded it was even at 5 AM.

Great football games over the holiday weekend, but none better than the Packers beating the Patriots yesterday in what was deemed a Super Bowl preview.  Feels good now but the next week is another game.

Here are a few financial articles I suggest for some good Post-Thanksgiving financial reading:

Jim Blankenship offers some Year-End Charitable Giving Tips at Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row.

Mike Piper answers a reader question Which Accounts Should I Spend From Each Year In Retirement? at Oblivious Investor.

Christine Benz provides an example of A Conservative Retirement Saver Portfolio for ETF Investors at Morningstar.com.

Larry Light shared a piece from financial advisor and blogger Jeff Rose Make Your Money Last In Retirement (Pt. 2) at Forbes.

Ben Steverman writes Hedge Funds Lose Money for Everyone, Not Just the Rich at Bloomberg.

John Wasik shares Five Ways to Protect Yourself on Cyber Monday at Forbes.

For now the Packers reign supreme but the Falcons visit Lambeau for next week’s Monday Night game and they will pose a tough challenge.  Enjoy Cyber Monday and the rest of the week.

What I’m Reading: Pre-Thanksgiving Edition


It’s an overcast Saturday here in the Chicago area.  Watching some college football and relaxing.  We are looking forward to having everyone home this upcoming week.

Here are a few financial articles I suggest checking out for some good weekend reading:

Keli Grant asks Which country gives the most to charity? at CNBC.com.

Check out Barbara Freidberg’s first piece as a fellow contributor to Investopedia How Advisors Can Help Clients Stomach Volatility.

Jonathan Clements cautions that In retirement, a big house can lead to the poor house at Market Watch.

Sterling Raskie provides An End of Year Financial Checklist at Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row.

Ben Steverman suggests Maybe You Don’t Need Long-Term Care Insurance After All at Bloomberg.

Mike Piper answers a reader question Are Dividends More Important Than Price Appreciation? at Oblivious Investor.

Here is my most recent contribution to Investopedia Financial Advisor Salary.

Enjoy your weekend, back to college football.  I’m hoping for a big Packer victory over the hated Vikings this weekend as well.  I wish you, your families, and loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving.

What I’m Reading: Stock Market Highs – Trick-or-Treat Edition


This past Friday was Halloween and that means trick-or-treaters dressed in all sorts of neat costumes.  We didn’t have a lot of kids ring the bell so the neighbor girl made out big-time when she and a friend came to the door later in the evening.

Of note in the financial markets on Friday was the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at a record high level as did the S&P 500 Index.  The NASDAQ finished at its highest level since March of 2000.   No Dead Bodies Here: New Highs for the S&P 500, Dow; Small Caps Soar by Ben Levisohn in Barons provides a good recap.  The new stock market highs on Halloween capped some scary market swings during October which saw precipitous drops around the middle of the month.

Here are a few financial articles I suggest that you check out:

Investing Blog Roundup: Schwab “Intelligent Portfolios” is the latest edition of Michael Piper’s excellent weekly collection of good financial reads.

Barbara Freidberg answers a reader’s question in Should I Buy Bonds Now?

Ben Eisen writes Investors buy stock funds at fastest pace in a year. 

The Myth of the Dumb 401(k) Investor by Morningstar’s John Rekenthaler.

Managing Someone Else’s Emotions provides a nice discussion of one of the toughest parts of a financial advisor’s job via Ben Carlson.

3 Signs You Have a ‘Zombie’ 401(k) by Scott Holsopple.

I recently became a contributor to Investopedia.  Here are my two most recent articles:

5 Things You Need To Know About Index Funds

Closing In On Retirement? Read These Tips

It will be interesting to see where the stock market goes from here.  I’m hoping the rest of 2014 is not as volatile as the month of October has been.

Enjoy your weekend, back to college football and eating our stash of Halloween candy.

Top Blog Posts of 2013


As we near the end of 2013 I want to thank you the readers of The Chicago Financial Planner for your readership and support.  I hope the posts and on this blog are informative and useful to you as you chart your financial course through life.  Here are the top blog posts on the site in terms of readership for 2013:

financial portfolio review

4 Signs of a Lousy 401(k):  401(k) plans are still a mystery to many of the workers who participate in them and sadly to many of the employers sponsoring these plans.  Here are 4 signs that your 401(k) plan might be lousy.

Life Insurance as a Retirement Savings Vehicle – A Good Idea?:  Life insurance is a key component of many financial plans.  However various forms of cash value life insurance are often marketed for other purposes including as a retirement planning vehicle.  Don’t fall for a slick sales pitch and some optimistic illustrations; understand the pros and cons before writing a check.

Small Business Retirement Plans – SEP-IRA vs. Solo 401(k)If you are self-employed saving for your retirement is totally on your shoulders.  Start a retirement plan if you haven’t already.  This post compares two popular vehicles, the SEP-IRA and the Solo 401(k).

My Thoughts on PBS Frontline The Retirement Gamble:  This report by the popular PBS show sparked a lot of discussion and did a nice job of pointing out some of the flaws in many 401(k) plans and with the whole system of defined contribution retirement plans.  However, in my opinion the show was also terribly biased.  I offer my thoughts on the show here.

401(k) Fee Disclosure and the American Funds:  This post was actually written in mid 2012 in the wake of the new 401(k) participant disclosure rules.  I use the six retirement plan share classes offered by the American Funds to illustrate and explain the portion of the required disclosures that deal with the costs and performance of the plan’s investment options.

Thank you again for your readership and support in 2013.  I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014.

If you have a question, comment, or would like to suggest a topic please contact me.

Please contact me at 847-506-9827 for a complimentary 30-minute retirement planning consultation and to discuss all of your investing, 401(k), and financial planning questions. Check out our Financial Planning and Investment Advice for Individuals page to learn more about our services.   

Photo credit:  Flickr

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A Feast of Thanksgiving Financial Links


In our house Thanksgiving is all about having the five of us together and eating way too much, passing out in a food coma and then eating some more.  In between the food, family, football, shopping, or whatever it is that you do over this holiday weekend here are some links to some great financial blogs if you have the time to do a little reading.


Must-read financial blogs

I recently attended the FINCON conference for financial bloggers in St. Louis and had a chance to connect and reconnect with some of these great bloggers.  This is a list of finance blogs that in my opinion offer great financial information and insights.

Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row

Consumerism Commentary

Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance

Mom and Dad Money

The Dollar Stretcher

Frugal Rules

Free From Broke

AAAMP Finance Blog

Len Penzo dot Com

Modest Money

PT Money

Cash Money Life


Money Crashers

Good Financial Cents

The College Investor

The Reformed Broker


Wealthcare For Women

This is not in any way, shape, or form an exhaustive list and I’ve certainly omitted some outstanding blogs.  None the less, the list above provides a great start in terms of finance blogs you should consider adding to your reading list.

Thanks for the recognition 

I want to thank Crain’s Chicago Business for featuring this blog in their recent article 8 must-read (and locally written) finance blogs.  My blog was profiled in The Chicago Financial Planner: A self-starter’s money guideNote this link might require you to log-in to their free limited subscription option. 

Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, was kind enough to mention this blog as her top pick for investing blogs in a piece for AARP Personal Finance Blogs You Should Read.

I hope that you and your families and loved ones have a great Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy the time spent together.

Please feel free to add any finance blogs or websites that you feel provide great information in the comment section below.

Please contact me at 847-506-9827 for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your investing and financial planning questions. Check out our Financial Planning and Investment Advice for Individuals page to learn more about our services.  

Photo credit:  Flickr

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Friday Finance Links May 10, 2013 – Happy Mother’s Day (and Final) Edition

Mother's Day cake

Sunday is Mother’s Day and I know my wife is glad to have our two local kids home this weekend.  On Sunday we will be heading to Rosebud on Rush in the city for lunch, a favorite spot, for the second year in a row.

This will be my last weekly links post, but you will continue to find my latest posts about  topics regarding financial planning, investments, and retirement plans here at  The Chicago Financial Planner.   I will likely continue to do a links post of some sort from time to time.

I thank everyone for your continued readership.  If there is a topic  that you would like me to write about or a question that you would like answered please send me a note via the contact page.

Here are a few links to some great weekend financial reading. 

Personal Finance Blogs

Ryan shares How to Verify a Military or Veteran Charity is Real at Military Wallet.

Jason asks Are We Taking the Wrong Retirement Risks? at Hull Financial Planning.

Robert shares The Single Most Important Trait That Defines Personal Finance Success at The College Investor.

Mike answers Does a Bond Fund’s Yield Tell You Its Level of Risk? at Oblivious Investor.

Posts from Fellow NAPFA Members

Robert Schmansky says The Retirement Crisis Debate Needs New Experts at forbes.com.

Jim Blankenship discusses Fixing an IRA With the “Wrong” Beneficiary at Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row.

Other financial articles from around the web 

Mark Miller offers More Tips on Long-Term Care Insurance at morningstar.com.

Robert Powell tells us What retirees really want: Peace of mind at marketwatch.com.

In case you missed it here is my latest contribution to the US News Smarter Investor Blog Not All Index Funds are Created Equal.

Here’s wishing everyone a great weekend.   Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there.

Photo credit:  Wikipedia

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