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79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Estate Planning

    Wills and trusts allow you to spell out how you would like your property distributed, but they also go beyond that.

  • Avoiding Probate

    The probate process can be lengthy and complex. There are strategies you can use to help avoid the probate process.

  • Controlling the Distribution

    If you haven’t taken steps already, consider planning now for the distribution of your estate’s assets.

  • Paying Estate Taxes

    If you believe your estate will be subject to estate taxes, consider how your heirs will pay the bill.

  • Gifting Strategies

    Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different gifting strategies available for planned giving.

Retirement

  • SIMPLE Plans

    The SIMPLE plan may appeal to small business owners as it is easy to set up, administer, and allows for a tax deduction.

  • Stretch IRAs

    A “stretch” or “multigenerational” IRA may be a useful approach to extend tax-deferred savings that can benefit your heirs for generations.

  • IRA Rollover

    If you leave a job or retire, you should consider your options regarding your employer retirement plan assets.

  • Why Purchase Annuities

    Annuities, an insurance-based financial vehicle, can provide many benefits that retirement investors might want.

  • Annuity Living Benefits

    Living benefits can help protect variable annuity owners from running out of money in retirement.

  • How Much Do I Need to Save?

    Many realize it’s important to save for retirement, but knowing exactly how much to save is another issue altogether.

  • Planning Options

    There are a variety of retirement planning options that could help meet your needs. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Future of Social Security

    Greater demand is being placed on the Social Security system as the baby boom generation has begun to retire.

  • Social Security Income

    The Social Security Administration’s retirement estimator gives estimates of your future benefits based on your actual Social Security earnings record.

  • Self-Employed Retirement Plans

    Tax-deferred retirement plans for self-employed individuals have higher contribution limits than IRAs.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

    When receiving money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have two options: lump sum or annuity.

  • Traditional IRAs

    If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might consider a traditional IRA.

  • 401(k) Plans

    401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plans have many benefits, including that the funds accumulate tax-deferred.

  • Managing Retirement Plans

    Employer-sponsored retirement plans are more important than ever, but managing the assets can be confusing.

  • Save Now or Save Later

    If you start saving for retirement sooner, the more money you are likely to accumulate and possibly retire sooner.

  • Roth IRAs

    Qualified Roth IRA distributions in retirement are free of federal income tax and aren’t included in gross income.

Tax Planning

  • Required Minimum Distributions

    Required minimum distribution is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a qualified retirement plan/account.

  • Withdrawing Before Age 59.5

    Tax-deferred retirement account withdrawals before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty.

  • Tax Deferral

    There can be a substantial benefit to deferring taxes as long as possible.

  • Tax-Advantaged Investments

    Many traditional tax-advantaged investment strategies have gone away, but there are still some alternatives.

  • Tax Deductions

    Changes to the tax code have left a few key deductions for itemizers, like medical, dental and some business expenses.

  • Tax Strategies for Retirement Plans

    Consider a trustee-to-trustee transfer to an IRA versus a lump-sum distribution from a workplace retirement plan.

Investing

  • Diversification

    An important element to successful investing is to manage investment risk while maintaining the potential for growth.

  • Mutual Funds vs. Stocks

    The difference between purchasing an individual stock versus shares in a mutual fund to potentially earn dividends.

  • Mutual Funds

    A mutual fund is a collection of stocks, bonds, and other securities with certain benefits and risks.

  • Annuities

    An annuity is a flexible financial vehicle that can help protect against the risk of living a long time because it provides an option for a lifetime income.

  • College Savings Plans

    There are several funding methods for a child's college education including mutual funds and Section 529 plans.

  • College Investment Options

    Starting to invest early for college and remaining consistent can help investors reach their goals.

  • 529 Plans

    529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings plans that generally allow people of any income level to contribute.

Cash Management

  • College Financial Aid

    It's important to understand the options, such as financial aid grant programs, when having to pay for college.

Risk Management

  • Why Purchase Life Insurance

    If you have a family who relies on your income, it is important to have life insurance protection.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Insuring Your Future

    To help you choose insurance wisely, determine how much coverage and what kind of policy is best for your situation.

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.

  • Types of Life Insurance

    When selecting a life insurance policy, examine all your options, as well as the positives and negatives of each type.