The Affordable Care Act 101

Affordable Care ActThe Affordable Care Act will bring a big health reform change to insurance plan coverage in 2014. You can start making plans now. A number of those changes will be introduced October 1, to give you a head start. Here’s a quick overview of the early changes and what to expect.

What Is It?

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was passed in 2010. It brought about a number of changes to how insurance companies had to operate like you can’t be turned down for pre-existing conditions, free preventive care, and the end of lifetime limits.

But it also added several rules we have to work with too, like the medicare surtax, individual mandate, open enrollment periods, and health insurance marketplaces. In the end it was supposed to make health care more available and easier to understand. Continue Reading…

SIPC Insurance Coverage: How It Protects Investors

SIPC Insurance CoverageSafety plays a big role where we put our money.  We know the FDIC protects our bank accounts from bank failures, but does anything protect our brokerage accounts?  The SIPC insurance coverage is there to protects investors when their brokerage firm fails, assuming the broker is a SIPC member.

What is the SIPC?

The SIPC, Securities Investor Protection Corporation, is a non government, non-profit, membership corporation created in 1970 by Congress.  When a brokerage firm fails, the SIPC insurance is there to help return your cash and securities that are held by the firm.

This may sound like FDIC insurance, but it’s very different.  Unlike the FDIC, the SIPC coverage does not protect investors from a loss in value.  So, if that stock you bought two weeks ago drops in price, you’re not protected.  That falls under the inherent market risks. Continue Reading…

Financial Emergency Kit: Are You Prepared?

Financial Emergency KitEmergencies happen every day.  But when the impossible happens, will you be ready?  Having a financial emergency kit will make a big difference if the worst should ever happens.

The first step to preparing a financial emergency kit involves a well stocked emergency fund.  You may only need enough to cover insurance deductibles or basic bills.  But if income loss is involved, being ready for several months will be key.  Ideally, it should be enough to cover 4 to 6 months of basic expenses.

Second, is to round-up all the important financial documents into a few safe places.  Just having access to extra cash or contact information may be enough for the minor emergency.  It’s still best to prepare for the worst, by securing all the important financial information, too.

Financial Emergency Kit Checklist

It’s important to keep all the information as up-to-date as possible.  Doing an annual review of your financial emergency kit is a good idea.  Just replace any old or outdated information when necessary. Continue Reading…

Do You Know Who Your Beneficiary Is?

Beneficiary ReviewA beneficiary review is one of those yearly events that can be easily overlooked.  When you get a life insurance policy or open an IRA, filling out the beneficiary designation is part of the process.  It lets you know where that money goes.  But, is that name you filled in years ago, still the person you want as a beneficiary?  If not, the wrong person will be getting your money.

I recently got my monthly Roth IRA statement.  Part of the email was a simple question that asked “Is your IRA beneficiary up-to-date?”.  Good question.  I wasn’t really slacking on keeping it updated, since I haven’t had a reason to change it.  But, keeping track of it certainly wasn’t a priority.

An IRA isn’t the only account or document that has beneficiary designations.  Keeping track of them all can be a bit tedious.  So an easy beneficiary review checklist is the place to start. Continue Reading…