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Increasingly, investors want to put their money where their values are.

Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, has slowly morphed into a catchall for what has historically been known as socially-responsible investing (SRI). While SRI focuses on mostly negative screens such as screening out companies involved in tobacco or gambling, ESG takes it a step further by applying an analytical framework to a business’s underlying fundamentals aimed positive things companies are doing that may help their business perform better.

Examples of ESG factors span many different issues ranging from climate change, to workers compensation and social equality, among others.

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No one wants to look cheap, especially at an event, unless the aesthetic they’re going for is “intentionally tacky.” Similarly, no one wants to overspend. Where’s the happy medium?

When it comes to trimming spending in order to prioritize savings goals and other personal initiatives over keeping up with the Joneses, there are thrifty ways to engineer a stylish presentation without breaking the bank. 

Just ask our own Liz Revenko:

 

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It’s fun when the investment markets go up. Your nest egg is growing and so is your net worth.

Unfortunately, markets go in cycles. They don’t always go up. In fact, the US stock market (as represented by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which approximates the 500 largest US companies) falls roughly once every four years. Sometimes that decline lasts for almost three years, as it did between 2000-2003. Or, it may be more intense, but only last for a year or two (2007-2009). Sometimes it’s just a week or two, if just to remind you that markets go down.

As an example, look at annual returns of the S&P 500 Index by year since 1980. Over those 37 years, eight have had negative full-year results, but every year has experienced a drop from peak to trough, many of which were pretty scary.

Even the good years have periods when negativity reigns supreme.

What is an investor to do? It seems to me there are three choices.

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One of the many changes enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) was the elimination of miscellaneous itemized deductions starting in 2018. This category included deductions for investment expenses which allowed you to deduct investment and custodial fees, costs-related trust administration, and other expenses, to the extent that they and other costs exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

One strategy to deal with the elimination of this tax break is to deduct the investment fee for the management of your IRA directly from the IRA.

Let’s look into how this strategy plays out.

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You may hear the acronym “QDRO” used quite a bit in the process of getting a divorce, and for good reason: a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) may play an important role in your resolution.

Finding a fair settlement utilizing a QDRO as a tool is naturally the goal, but it isn't always easy.

Don't underestimate the plan administrator's power, how QDROs are constructed, or the importance of specificity. Let's take a closer look at these and other considerations.

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Over her more than fifteen years with Mosaic, Mary Ballin, CFP®, CDFA® has become known for her gracious character and talent as a close listener who respectfully meets her audience at their level.

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By popular request, in our recent round of Women’s Circles, we discussed how values and goals influence money decisions. One of the big takeaways was that if you don’t consciously make decisions based on what’s important to you, your sub-conscious is going to be in charge of your wallet. And you might not like where that takes you. 

The good news is that we can take advantage of new research on how our brains work—starting with being aware that goal setting happens even if we don’t set conscious goals.

This article includes some actionable ways you can tap into what you care about to set goals and increase your financial satisfaction. We also have a free worksheet to help get you started.

First things first:

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The July news roundup brings a wealth of retirement-related advice, from tips on discussing retirement with your partner to considering how inflation can impact your portfolio, and more.

The team has also been musing on children and personal finance this month, and several articles cite Mosaic on covering smart planning tips for expectant parents as well as tips for money matters that can crop up with adult children.

Read on for the thoughtful details:

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I’ll bet many people reading this article haven’t finished their estate plan.

According to CNBC’s 2015 survey, 38% of those polled with investable assets of $1 million or more have not established an estate plan. Lots of people take the responsible step and get started on making sure things are in place in the event of their death or incapacitating illness.

Unfortunately, far too few of us actually finish the process. So many people put it off, postpone it indefinitely, or refuse to acknowledge its usefulness. Some individuals will take the time to meet with an estate planning attorney and draft their documents, but not sign them. Others will hastily change the subject to a less existential topic. A famous example of avoidance comes from legendary pop musician Prince, who died suddenly with no will in place despite his massive fortune.

But if you have loved ones and assets, and care about where those assets end up, estate planning is a must. So let’s make sure you’re not part of the aforementioned 38%.

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Often, in many marriages, one of the spouses assumes the role of “financial lead.” This person manages the couple’s money, pays the bills, works on the taxes, and understands where all of the important papers and assets are located.

So long as the couple remains together and are happily married, this arrangement can work fine. Unfortunately when there is one spouse who doesn’t participate actively in financial decisions, they put themselves at a disadvantage in a divorce situation.

The non-financial spouse can quickly feel very vulnerable, like they are at a noticeable disadvantage. 

What happens to this spouse in the event of a divorce?

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