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Choosing an Insurance Provider

October 14, 2019

The sale of insurance products has undergone enormous change in the past 10 years. Before 1990, the only way to buy property and casualty insurance was through the insurance company’s agent or an independent insurance broker. Gradually, over the last decade, states have allowed banks to enter the arena and sell insurance.

What are your options?

Insurance companies sell their products through many venues. You can go directly to the insurance company that provides the coverage through the mail, telephone, Internet, or one of the company’s agents. It is important to remember that these agents represent the insurance company, not the insurance buyer. If you choose, you can let an independent insurance broker (i.e., an independent contractor who represents one or more insurance companies) find a company for you. Or, you can shop for insurance at a bank that owns or has partnered with an insurance company and hires agents or brokers who will sell insurance from the bank lobby.

If you prefer to have someone represent you who does not sell insurance but only gives advice, you can hire an insurance broker. An advisor is an independent contractor whose job is to determine your insurance needs and find an insurance company that is willing to provide the appropriate coverage at a good price. Advisors typically charge you a fee for this service.

Here are some criteria to consider when you are deciding whether to go directly to a company or work through a company’s agent, an independent broker, or a bank:

What is an insurance company’s rating?

To learn about a company’s financial strength and claims-paying ability, you need to check out the company’s rating. Five major rating services make a business of grading insurance companies. They are A. M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch, and Weiss. Though each organization has its own system for determining the grades, they all use similar criteria, such as the company’s management stability, recent performance, and financial strength. To find out what an insurance company’s rating is, go to one of the rating service’s websites, or ask the agent or broker to provide you with the ratings. You may also want to call your state’s insurance department for a history of customer complaints.

What level of service do you want?

Make sure your insurance company, agent, or broker can give you the kind of service you value. Here are some service-related questions you can ask:

  • Does the agent or broker offer counsel about what kind of insurance you need?
  • Will the agent or broker review your policies with you annually to make sure your coverage is up-to-date?
  • When is someone available who can answer your insurance coverage questions?
  • If you have a problem with a claim or a bill, is someone available who can resolve the issue for you quickly?
  • Is it important that the provider’s office be close to your home or workplace?

How much experience does your agent or broker have?

Because insurance is a complicated subject, individuals who sell it should be qualified and knowledgeable, and not just licensed to sell. Be sure your insurance agent or broker has enough experience to give you the proper guidance in choosing your coverage. Otherwise, you could wind up buying inappropriate coverage or overpaying for coverage. Before buying insurance, find out how long the person you’re dealing with has been in the business and in what capacity. Also, inquire if he or she has received any professional insurance designations, such as the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation. Ask if he or she has attended any recent courses and whether he or she keeps up with the constant changes in the insurance industry.

Are you getting the lowest-cost insurance?

If you are getting quotes from more than one insurance company, be sure you compare apples to apples. Is the coverage the same for each company? Are the limits of coverage the same? Are there any exclusions in the policies?

Do your insurance needs require specialists?

Many companies specialize in certain types of insurance. Many brokers specialize in the needs of certain professions or businesses. For example, an agency may specialize in writing insurance for general contractors, truckers, or small-business owners. Many insurance companies have specific niches in which they excel, such as homeowners policies for houses over 100 years old. Others specialize in providing contractors’ bonds, directors’ bonds, and officers’ liability. To find out which companies’ agents and brokers specialize in what types of insurance, contact your local insurance agents’ and brokers’ associations, look in the yellow pages, or check out the websites of different companies.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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ABCs of Auto Insurance

October 11, 2019

Today, most states require car owners to purchase auto insurance coverage. Whether you already have auto insurance or are considering buying some, you may be wondering how much is enough and which types of coverage you need. Here are a few tips to get you started.

A is for auto policy

When you purchase auto insurance, you enter into a written contract with your insurance company. The contract states that you agree to pay a certain amount of money (the premium) and that the insurer agrees to provide a certain dollar amount of protection (coverage limits) for a specified amount of time. Read this policy carefully when you get it, and ask your insurance agent to clarify any terms and conditions that you don’t understand. And remember to review your policy periodically. Your life will change, and so will your coverage needs.

B is for bodily injury coverage

Bodily injury and property damage make up the portion of your policy known as liability coverage. This is mandatory in most states. If you cause an accident, you may be liable for some or all of the damages. Liability coverage protects you from potential lawsuits by providing coverage to individual(s) injured as a result of your negligence. The amount of protection (coverage) that you choose, beyond state requirements, is up to you. In many states, you can purchase as little as $20,000 per injured person and $40,000 per accident. However, this may not be enough to adequately protect you. For instance, if you own a home or have any other valuable assets, you’ll want to protect those assets by choosing higher limits. Frequently recommended limits are $100,000 per injured person and $300,000 per accident.

C is for collision and comprehensive

Collision, as the name implies, covers your auto when it strikes an object (e.g., a tree or a telephone pole). Comprehensive covers your auto against other physical damage that is not covered by collision (e.g., fire and theft). Although these coverages are optional under state insurance laws, that doesn’t mean you should forgo them. Collision and comprehensive can be valuable because they can limit your out-of-pocket expenses.

But if your car has a low resale value (e.g., under $1,000), having collision and comprehensive coverage may not make sense–the premium cost may not be worth it if you can afford to pay for repairs yourself. However, keep in mind that dropping these coverages is not always up to you. If you finance your car, your lender may require you to carry collision and comprehensive coverage.

D is for deductible

Think of your deductible as self-insurance. It’s the amount of money that you’re willing to pay out of your own pocket if there’s an accident. You can save money on your premiums by choosing a higher deductible, but watch out–if you get into an accident, you’ll need to come up with that amount before your insurance pays a dime.

For example, say you choose a $1,000 deductible. You get into a minor accident, and the damages total $950. You’ll end up footing the entire repair bill, because your insurer pays for damage only above and beyond your deductible amount. But if your deductible was lower, say $500, you would have to come up with only that amount–your insurer would pay the remaining part of the bill, in this case $450.

E is for exclusions

Exclusions are why it’s so important for you to read your auto policy. Most people purchase open peril or unnamed peril policies. These policies cover all risks, except those listed in the exclusions section of your policy. For example, insurers do not cover “willful and wanton misconduct.” This is conduct that is intentional and reckless or in disregard of the law. You don’t want to find yourself in an exclusionary situation, because you’ll be left to pay the bills–both yours and those of anyone you injure.

F is for filing a claim

You’ve been in an accident–now what? You need to notify your insurer. Your insurer will have you fill out an incident report in which you state what happened in the accident. You may also need to give a recorded statement to the adjuster. If you file a claim for property damage, you’ll need to get an appraisal. Some insurers will send an appraiser to you, while others require you to come to them. If you are injured, your insurer will require you to have a physical exam. In general, you can see your own doctor, but the insurer may also ask that you see a doctor of its choosing.

Most insurance policies contain a clause regarding late notice. If you fail to notify your insurer of the accident in a timely manner, the company can disclaim coverage. This means that the insurer will not pay. What is considered late notice? This question continues to be battled out in courtrooms across the United States, so if you are planning to file a claim, the best advice is to notify your insurer as soon as possible.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.
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How Student Loans Impact Your Credit

October 11, 2019

If you’ve finished college within the last few years, chances are you’re paying off your student loans. What happens with your student loans now that they’ve entered repayment status will have a significant impact — positive or negative — on your credit history and credit score.

It’s payback time

When you left school, you enjoyed a grace period of six to nine months before you had to begin repaying your student loans. But they were there all along, sleeping like an 800-pound gorilla in the corner of the room. Once the grace period was over, the gorilla woke up. How is he now affecting your ability to get other credit?

One way to find out is to pull a copy of your credit report. There are three major credit reporting agencies, or credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union — and you should get a copy of your credit report from each one. Keep in mind, though, that while institutions making student loans are required to report the date of disbursement, balance due, and current status of your loans to a credit bureau, they’re not currently required to report the information to all three, although many do.

If you’re repaying your student loans on time, then the gorilla is behaving nicely, and is actually helping you establish a good credit history. But if you’re seriously delinquent or in default on your loans, the gorilla will turn into King Kong, terrorizing the neighborhood and seriously undermining your efforts to get other credit.

What’s your credit score?

Your credit report contains information about any credit you have, including credit cards, car loans, and student loans. The credit bureau (or any prospective creditor) may use this information to generate a credit score, which statistically compares information about you to the credit performance of a base sample of consumers with similar profiles. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be a good credit risk, and the better your chances of obtaining credit at a favorable interest rate.

Many different factors are used to determine your credit score. Some of these factors carry more weight than others. Significant weight is given to factors describing:

  • Your payment history, including whether you’ve paid your obligations on time, and how long any delinquencies have lasted
  • Your outstanding debt, including the amounts you owe on your accounts, the different types of accounts you have (e.g., credit cards, installment loans), and how close your balances are to the account limits
  • Your credit history, including how long you’ve had credit, how long specific accounts have been open, and how long it has been since you’ve used each account
  • New credit, including how many inquires or applications for credit you’ve made, and how recently you’ve made them

Student loans and your credit score

Always make your student loan payments on time. Otherwise, your credit score will be negatively affected. To improve your credit score, it’s also important to make sure that any positive repayment history is correctly reported by all three credit bureaus, especially if your credit history is sparse. If you find that your student loans aren’t being reported correctly to all three major credit bureaus, ask your lender to do so.

But even when it’s there for all to see, a large student loan debt may impact a factor prospective creditors scrutinize closely: your debt-to-income ratio. A large student loan debt may especially hurt your chances of getting new credit if you’re in a low-paying job, and a prospective creditor feels your budget is stretched too thin to make room for the payments any new credit will require.

Moreover, if your principal balances haven’t changed much (and they don’t in the early years of loans with long repayment terms) or if they’re getting larger (because you’ve taken a forbearance on your student loans and the accruing interest is adding to your outstanding balance), it may look to a prospective lender like you’re not making much progress on paying down the debt you already have.

Getting the monkey off your back

Like many people, you may have put off buying a house or a car because you’re overburdened with student loan debt. So what can you do to improve your situation? Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Pay off your student loan debt as fast as possible. Doing so will reduce your debt-to-income ratio, even if your income doesn’t increase.
  • If you’re struggling to repay your student loans and are considering asking for a forbearance, ask your lender instead to allow you to make interest-only payments. Your principal balance may not go down, but it won’t go up, either.
  • Ask your lender about a graduated repayment option. In this arrangement, the term of your student loan remains the same, but your payments are smaller in the beginning years and larger in the later years. Lowering your payments in the early years may improve your debt-to-income ratio, and larger payments later may not adversely affect you if your income increases as well.
  • If you’re really strapped, explore extended or income-sensitive repayment options. Extended repayment options extend the term you have to repay your loans. Over the longer term, you’ll pay a greater amount of interest, but your monthly payments will be smaller, thus improving your debt-to-income ratio. Income-sensitive plans tie your monthly payment to your level of income; the lower your income, the lower your payment. This also may improve your debt-to-income ratio.
  • If you have several student loans, consider consolidating them through a student loan consolidation program. This won’t reduce your total debt, but a larger loan may offer a longer repayment term or a better interest rate. While you’ll pay more total interest over the course of a longer term, you’ll also lower your monthly payment, which in turn will lower your debt-to-income ratio.

If you’re in default on your student loans, don’t ignore them — they aren’t going to go away. Student loans generally cannot be discharged even in bankruptcy. Ask your lender about loan rehabilitation programs; successful completion of such programs can remove default status notations on your credit reports.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Receiving Unemployment Benefits

October 10, 2019

Do you worry about changes in the economy? Have you recently been fired or a victim of downsizing? Whatever your situation, you may be wondering if you’re eligible for unemployment benefits. For a basic understanding of how unemployment benefits work, read on!

Am I eligible?

Although specific eligibility requirements vary from state to state, most states have the same basic standards for collecting unemployment benefits. They include:

  • You must be unemployed or working less than full time
  • You must meet certain income requirements
  • You must be ready, willing, and able to work
  • You must have involuntarily left your job

In general, you won’t be eligible for benefits if:

  • You quit your job simply because you didn’t like it
  • You’re fired for committing a crime (e.g., stealing)
  • You’ve never worked before

For more information, contact your state’s local employment office. You can also look in the state government section of your phone book under Unemployment Insurance, Unemployment Compensation, Employment Insurance, or Employment Service. Or, you can try surfing the Internet using these same key terms.

Where does the money come from?

In most states, unemployment compensation is financed by employer contributions through a payroll tax. In a few states, employees are also required to contribute a minimal amount to the fund.

How do I apply?

Most states will allow you to apply for benefits:

  • In person
  • By telephone
  • By mail

When filling out the application, you’ll be asked a lot of questions, so have the following information handy:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your last employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Your last day of work and the reason that you’re no longer working
  • Your salary history
  • Your proof-of-citizenship status

How are benefits calculated?

Regardless of which state you live in, you’ll receive a weekly unemployment benefit based on how long you were employed and your prior wages. The state will calculate your average weekly wage, and you will receive a percentage of that wage based on your state’s formula. You can figure out your average weekly wage by adding up 12 months’ worth of pay stubs and dividing that number by 52. If you were salaried, just divide your annual salary by 52.

How long can I receive benefits?

In most states, you can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks. However, federal laws and some state laws provide for additional benefits to be paid to workers who exhaust their regular benefits during periods of high unemployment. These additional benefits may generally be paid up to 14 weeks (20 weeks in some states) and are funded partly by state governments and partly by the federal government.

Are unemployment benefits taxable?

The answer to this question comes as a big surprise to many people. Yes, the unemployment compensation you receive is generally taxable. In some states, you can ask that taxes be withheld from your unemployment check. This could save you from a big tax bill at the end of the year. For more information, consult your tax advisor.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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529 Plans and Financial Aid Eligibility

October 10, 2019

If you’re thinking about opening a 529 account, or if you’ve already opened one, you might be wondering how 529 funds will affect your child’s financial aid eligibility.

A general word about financial aid

The financial aid process is all about assessing what a family can afford to pay for college and trying to fill the gap. To do this, the federal government and colleges examine a family’s income and assets to determine how much a family should be expected to contribute before receiving financial aid. Financial aid formulas weigh assets differently, depending on whether they are owned by the parent or the child. So, it’s important to know how your 529 account will be classified, because this will affect the amount of your child’s financial aid award.

Financial aid can consist of loans (which must be repaid in the future), grants or scholarships, and/or a work-study job. The typical financial aid package contains all of these types of aid. There are no guarantees that a larger financial aid award will consist of favorable grants and scholarships — your child may simply get more loans.

The two main sources of financial aid are the federal government and colleges. In determining a student’s financial need, the federal government uses a formula known as the federal methodology, while colleges use a formula known as the institutional methodology. The treatment of 529 accounts may differ, depending on the formula used.

How is financial need determined?

Though the federal government and colleges use different formulas to assess financial need, the basic process is the same. You and your child fill out a financial aid application by listing your current assets, income, and personal family information (exactly what assets must be listed will depend on the formula used). The federal application is called the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid; colleges generally use an application known as the CSS Profile.

Your family’s asset and income information is run through a specific formula to determine your expected family contribution, or EFC. Your EFC represents the amount of money that your family is considered to have available to put toward college costs for that year. The federal government uses its EFC figure in distributing federal aid; colleges uses their own EFC figure when distributing their own institutional aid.

The difference between your EFC and the cost of attendance (COA) at your child’s college equals your child’s financial need. The COA generally includes billed costs for tuition, fees, room and board and a designated sum for non-billed costs for books, transportation, and personal expenses. It’s important to remember that the amount of your child’s financial need will vary, depending on the cost of a particular school.

The results of your FAFSA are sent to every college that your child applies to. Every college that accepts your child will then attempt to craft a financial aid package to meet your child’s financial need. In addition to the federal EFC figure, colleges that use the CSS Profile form will have that EFC figure too. Eventually, the financial aid administrator will create an aid package made up of loans, grants, scholarships, and/or a work-study job. Some of the aid will be from federal programs and the rest will be from the college’s own funds. Keep in mind that colleges aren’t obligated to meet all of your child’s financial need. If they don’t, you’re responsible for the shortfall.

The financial aid treatment of 529 plans

Now let’s see how a 529 account affects federal financial aid.

Under the federal methodology, 529 plans — both savings plans and prepaid tuition plans — are considered an asset of the parent if the parent is the account owner. In this case, the value of the account is listed as an asset on the FAFSA. Under the federal formula, a parent’s assets are assessed (counted) at a rate of no more than 5.6%. This means that every year, the federal government treats 5.6% of a parent’s assets as available to help pay college costs. (By contrast, student assets are assessed at a rate of 20%.)

There are a few points to keep in mind regarding the classification of 529 plans as a parent asset:

  • A parent is required to list a 529 plan as an asset only if he or she is the account owner of the plan. If a grandparent is the account owner, then the 529 plan doesn’t need to be listed as an asset on the FAFSA (this doesn’t seem fair, but grandparent-owned 529 accounts are counted in a different way, discussed below.)
  • Any student-owned or UTMA/UGMA-owned 529 account is also reported as a parent asset if the student files the FAFSA as a dependent student. A 529 account is considered an UTMA/UGMA-owned account when UTMA/UGMA assets are transferred to a 529 account on behalf of the same beneficiary.
  • If your adjusted gross income is less than $50,000 and you meet a few other requirements, the federal government doesn’t count any of your assets in determining your EFC. So your 529 account wouldn’t affect your child’s financial aid eligibility at all.

Withdrawals from a parent-owned 529 account that are used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified education expenses aren’t classified as either parent or student income on the FAFSA the following year.

Now, what about grandparent-owned 529 accounts? Grandparent-owned accounts are not listed as an asset on the FAFSA. However, withdrawals from a grandparent-owned 529 account are counted as student income on the FAFSA the following year. Student income is assessed at 50%, which means that a student’s eligibility for financial aid could decrease by 50% in the year following the withdrawal. As a result, grandparents may want to wait until the spring of their grandchild’s junior year of college to make a withdrawal if they are concerned about the potential impact on financial aid.

Regarding the institutional methodology, 529 plans are generally treated the same as under the federal methodology. But check with your child’s individual college for more information.

Note: Before investing in a 529 plan, please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully. The official disclosure statements and applicable prospectuses – which contain this and other information about the investment options, underlying investments, and investment company – can be obtained by contacting your financial professional. You should read these materials carefully before investing. As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 plan. There is also the risk that the investments may lose money or not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated. Investment earnings accumulate on a tax-deferred basis, and withdrawals are tax-free as long as they are used for qualified higher-education expenses. For withdrawals not used for qualified higher-education expenses, earnings may be subject to taxation as ordinary income and possibly a 10% federal income tax penalty. The tax implications of a 529 plan should be discussed with your legal and/or tax advisors because they can vary significantly from state to state. Also be aware that most states offer their own 529 plans, which may provide advantages and benefits exclusively for their residents and taxpayers. These other state benefits may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Auto Accident Checklist

October 9, 2019

An automobile accident can be a confusing and stressful event, but being prepared can help you remain calm. It’s important to know what to do immediately after an accident and what to do in the days following.

Immediately after an accident

  • Don’t panic.
  • Pull off the road if the accident is minor. If the accident is serious and there are injuries, or if you believe there will be a dispute as to who’s at fault, don’t move the vehicles.
  • Call for police or medical assistance if necessary. In some states, police must be called if there is any property damage.
  • If you believe that the accident was staged intentionally, drive away to a safe or public location, signaling to the other driver that you are doing so. Don’t get out of your vehicle if you feel threatened.
  • Take any necessary safety precautions. Set up flares or warning triangles starting 50 feet behind the vehicle. Turn on your flashers. Call a tow truck, if needed. Try to direct traffic away from the scene, if you can do so safely.
  • Don’t get into an altercation with the other driver, no matter how certain you are that he or she was at fault. Don’t discuss who is at fault.

Gather as much information as you can

  • Exchange key information with the other driver, including name, automobile owner’s name, car registration, insurance company, insurance policy number, and driver’s license number. If you are hesitant about safety, don’t give your address or phone number to anyone but the police.
  • Write down the license plate number and state of any other vehicles involved in the accident. You’ll also want a description of the car, including color, make, and model. Note the current condition of the other car and whether it appears to have past damage unrelated to this accident.
  • If passengers or other individuals were involved, get their names and find out how to contact them.
  • If possible, get the names, addresses, and/or phone numbers of witnesses to the accident. Get the name and town of the police officer responding, as well.
  • It’s a good idea to keep a one-time-use camera in your car to take photographs of all damage.

Take simple legal precautions

  • Call the police right away and ask for medical assistance if necessary. Police should always be called to the scene of a serious accident or if property damage is significant or a traffic violation is involved (e.g., running a stop sign). Call the police right away if you believe the other driver is intoxicated.
  • Don’t leave the scene until the police arrive.
  • Don’t discuss the accident at the scene with anyone except the police, not even the other driver. In addition, don’t admit responsibility for the accident because there may be legal repercussions. Just discuss the facts.
  • Immediately write down your recollection of the accident, noting time, weather conditions, road conditions, positions of vehicles, and so on.
  • Don’t take any money for settlement of a claim at the accident scene. Later on, if you don’t want to involve your insurance company, you can always negotiate a settlement with the other driver. If you do so, have him or her sign a letter releasing you from further liability.

Notify the following agencies

  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Your policy probably includes a clause stating that your insurance company should be promptly notified, and your state may have a law that limits the amount of time you have to notify your insurance company.
  • If you have a car loan, make sure that your insurance company has notified the lienholder. If your vehicle is declared a total loss, it’s likely that the insurance company will issue a check to the lienholder, not to you.
  • Some states have laws requiring that individuals involved in an accident resulting in injury or property damage report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Check with the police, the DMV, or your insurance company to find out if your state or the state in which the accident occurred has such a requirement.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Help! I Can’t Pay My Tax Bill

October 9, 2019

You’re almost done with your federal income tax return, and you’re already thinking of ways to spend your refund. Then, the unthinkable happens — instead of a refund, you find that you owe $3,000. Or perhaps you’ve just received an IRS notice in the mail claiming that you owe $9,000 for the retirement plan distribution you took two years ago. You thought it was tax free at the time. Whatever the reason, you’re now in the unenviable position of owing money to the IRS — and you don’t have the cash. What do you do now?

First, don’t panic. You have several options. That said, however, don’t put your head in the sand. The IRS won’t go away, and the amount you owe will only grow larger if you procrastinate. If you ignore your tax bill entirely, not only will interest and penalties accrue, but the IRS may go after your assets and wages as well. You can avoid all of that unpleasantness by finding a way to pay your taxes. Here are some possibilities.

Pay what you can afford when you file the return, then wait for a bill

Perhaps you’re between paychecks right now, or maybe you just paid a substantial car repair bill. For one reason or another, you’re suffering from a short-term cash flow problem. You’ll eventually have the cash to pay your tax bill — you just don’t have it right now. If that’s your situation, you may want to consider the following approach. First, pay as much as you can when you file your tax return. This will help reduce the penalties and interest that you’ll be charged.

Next, wait for the IRS to send you a bill for the remaining balance. This should take roughly 45 days. Perhaps by then you’ll have enough cash to pay the bill in full. If not, call the number or write to the address on the bill you’ve received, or visit the nearest IRS office to explain your situation. Based on the circumstances, you could qualify for an agreement to full pay within 60 or 120 days. The IRS is willing to offer these short-term agreements to full pay in order to assist in tax debt repayment. You can request an agreement length depending on the specific situation.

One problem with this approach, however, is that interest and penalties continue to accrue on the unpaid balance. So, while you may buy yourself some time, the total amount that you’ll end up paying may be much higher than it would have been if you had paid your tax bill in full when due.

There’s another thing to keep in mind — filing an extension will do you no good. An extension simply extends the time to file your tax return; it doesn’t extend the time to pay your tax. Whatever you do, file your return on time. A timely filed return can reduce your subsequent penalties.

Borrow money from a relative or take out a loan to pay your bill

One of the easiest ways to pay your tax bill may be to borrow the money from a relative or close friend. Borrow whatever you must to pay the bill in full, and draw up a payment plan to reimburse your benefactor. By paying the bill in full, you’ll be able to avoid IRS penalties and interest. And you may not have to pay interest to your relative or friend. However, be careful if you borrow more than $10,000; the below-market interest rules may trigger certain tax consequences.

If you can’t borrow from a relative or friend, consider taking out an unsecured bank loan or tapping into a home equity line of credit. Although the interest rates may be higher than interest that a relative or friend may charge, the interest will probably be less than the interest and penalties owed on the unpaid tax.

Pay by credit card

Another option is to pay your taxes by credit card. Obviously, you’ll want to use the card with the lowest interest rate. If you’re approaching your credit limit on a given card, you can split payments between two different credit cards.

Paying by credit card allows you to pay your tax bill on time. You’ll avoid both penalties and interest for late payment of taxes. However, the interest rate that your credit card company charges may be higher than what the IRS charges on installment payments or late payments.

The IRS website provides a list of payment processors with links, phone numbers, and the credit cards that are accepted, as well as the associated fees. Keep in mind that any fee charged by the company processing the payment will be in addition to any interest that your credit card company charges.

Pay by installments

An installment agreement is a monthly payment plan with the IRS. It’s the most widely used method for paying an IRS tax debt. The IRS will generally accept the payment of your tax liability in installments if your total tax liability (not counting interest, penalties, and other additions) is $10,000 or less, and if you meet a few other requirements.

To enter into an installment agreement, contact the IRS by telephone, mail, or online, and explain that you’re unable to pay your tax bill in full. The IRS will send you Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to fill out, and the fee is $225 ($107 for direct debit installment agreements). Now you can also enter into an online installment agreement. The fee for an online payment agreement is $149 ($31 for a direct debit online payment agreement). For any of these payment methods, you may qualify to pay a reduced fee of $43 (if lower than the regular fee) if your income is below a certain level. For installment agreements entered into after April 9, 2018, the IRS will waive or reimburse the user fees if your income is below a certain level and certain conditions are met. Your tax liability may generally be spread out over a period of 72 months, and payments can be automatically withdrawn from your bank account or made through payroll deduction. You’ll generally be expected to pay the maximum installment amount that you can afford. Although you won’t avoid interest and penalties with this payment method, you’ll avoid more severe collection action.

Propose an offer in compromise

If you meet certain criteria, such as doubt as to liability or doubt as to collectibility, you may want to propose an offer in compromise to the IRS on Form 656. This is a negotiated settlement between you and the IRS. Here, the IRS may agree to accept a lesser figure from you in full satisfaction of your tax debt. If you owe $20,000 in taxes, you might, for example, be able to settle for $5,000. However, there’s no guarantee that the IRS will accept your offer. There’s also generally a lot of paperwork to submit, including various IRS forms, financial statements, pay stubs, and bank records. And, there’s generally a non-refundable up-front application fee of $186, and a non-refundable initial payment requirement (both the application fee and the initial payment are waived for individuals who meet certain income requirements).

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of your tax bill, though, and if you meet the criteria, an offer in compromise may be a good solution. It’s important to note, however, that the IRS won’t accept an offer if the IRS believes that the liability can be paid in full or through an installment agreement.

Bankruptcy: it’s no panacea, but it might help

Bankruptcy is a way to resolve your debts when you’re unable to pay them. Although many taxes can’t be avoided in bankruptcy, declaring bankruptcy will suspend most collection activities by the IRS. In some cases, interest and penalties will also cease to accrue. Finally, reducing your overall debt burden by eliminating unsecured debt (e.g., credit card balances) through bankruptcy can leave more money to pay your IRS tax bill.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Dealing with Divorce

October 8, 2019

Divorce can be a lengthy process that may strain your finances and leave you feeling out of control. But with the right preparation, you can protect your interests, take charge of your future, and save yourself time and money. You certainly never expected divorce when you cut the wedding cake; you and your spouse planned on spending the rest of your lives together. Unfortunately, the fairy tale didn’t work out, and you’re headed for a divorce. So where do you begin?

First things first: should you hire an attorney?

There’s no legal requirement that you hire an attorney when divorcing. In fact, going it alone may be a sensible option if you’re young and have been married only a short time, are childless, and have few assets. However, most divorcing couples hire attorneys to better protect their interests, even though doing so can be expensive. Divorce attorneys typically charge hourly rates and require you to submit retainers (lump sums) up front. The charges will depend on the complexity of the case, the reputation and experience of the divorce attorney, and your geographic location.

You should know that if you’re a homemaker or earn less income than your spouse, it’s still possible to obtain legal representation. You can submit a motion to the court, asking a judge to order your spouse to pay for your attorney’s fees.

If you and your spouse can agree on most issues, you may save time and money by filing an uncontested divorce. If you can’t agree on significant issues, you may want to meet with a divorce mediator, who can help you resolve issues that the two of you can’t resolve alone. To find a mediator, contact your local domestic relations court, ask friends for a referral, or look online. Certain attorneys, members of the clergy, psychologists, social workers, marriage counselors, and financial professionals may offer their services as mediators.

Save time and money by doing your homework before meeting with a divorce professional

To save time and money, compile as much of the following information as you can before meeting with an attorney or other divorce professional:

  • Each spouse’s date of birth
  • Names and birthdates of children, if you have any
  • Date and place of marriage and length of time in present state
  • Existence of prenuptial agreement
  • Information about parties’ prior marriages, children, etc.
  • Date of separation and grounds for divorce
  • Current occupation and name and address of employer for each spouse
  • Social Security number for each spouse
  • Income of each spouse
  • Education, degrees, and training of each spouse
  • Extent of employee benefits for each spouse
  • Details of retirement plans for each spouse
  • Joint assets of the parties
  • Liabilities and debts of each spouse
  • Life (and other) insurance of each spouse
  • Separate or personal assets of each spouse, including trust funds and inheritances
  • Financial records
  • Family business records
  • Collections, artwork, and antiques

If you’re uncertain about some of these areas, you can obtain the necessary information through your spouse’s financial affidavit and/or the discovery process, both of which are mandated by the court.

Consider some big questions

Although your divorce professional will help you work through the big issues, you might want to think about the following questions before meeting with him or her:

  • If you have children, what are your wishes regarding custody, visitation, and child support?
  • Whose health insurance plan should cover the children?
  • Do you earn enough money to adequately support yourself, or should alimony be considered?
  • Which assets do you really want, and which are you willing to let your spouse keep?
  • How do you feel about the family home? Do you feel strongly about living there, or should it be sold or allotted to your spouse?
  • Will you have enough money to pay the outstanding debt on whatever assets you keep?

In addition to an attorney, you may want to see a therapist to help you clarify your wishes, express yourself more clearly, and deal with any child-related issues. Such counseling is typically covered by health insurance.

Some dos and don’ts when divorcing

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Do prepare a budget and a financial plan to sustain you until your divorce is final. Get help if you don’t currently have the skills and energy to do this on your own.
  • Do review monthly bank and financial statements and make copies for your attorney.
  • Do review all tax returns that have been filed jointly or separately by your spouse.
  • Do make sure all taxes have been paid to date.
  • Do review the contents of any safe-deposit boxes.
  • Do get emotional support for yourself. Talk to friends, join a support group, or see a therapist.
  • Don’t make large purchases or create additional debt that might later cause financial hardship.
  • Don’t quit your job.
  • Don’t move out of the house before consulting your attorney.
  • Don’t transfer or give away assets that are owned jointly.
  • Don’t sign a blank financial statement or any other document without reviewing it with your attorney.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Business Automobile Insurance Basics

October 8, 2019

You’ve worked hard to get your business off the ground (or to keep it going). So the last thing you want to worry about is a lawsuit. Business automobile insurance is designed to protect businesses against liability and property damage claims that may result when an employee has an accident.

It’s all Greek to me

Respondeat superior (also known as vicarious liability) is a legal term of art. Loosely translated, it means “let the higher up be responsible.” As the employer, you’re responsible for the actions of your employees (within certain limits). If you send your employee out to do something (e.g., make a delivery) and the employee causes an accident, you’ll need to put your business auto policy (BAP) insurer on notice, because it’s likely that any damage claims will be filed against the employer–“the higher up.”

It’s not that the employee is not liable; after all, the accident was the employee’s fault. The injured party may hold both the employee and the employer liable, but in general, it’s the employer that pays the claim. When one party (employer) agrees to (or is otherwise bound to) pay for damages caused by another party (employee), this is known as indemnification. And this is why you may want to consider business automobile insurance.

They’ve got you covered

Your BAP is designed to protect your business against two basic types of claims: property damage and liability. Property damage coverage pays for damage to cars involved in an accident, but it doesn’t stop there. Did you know that it may also cover damage to landscape (e.g., running over flower beds) and personal items left inside the car? Liability, on the other hand, covers your business in case you or your employees injure someone. Your BAP explains in detail what is or isn’t covered–check it out.

Fleet insurance

If you’re looking to insure a number of vehicles, you may want to consider fleet insurance. Typically, insurers will write fleet policies for four or more vehicles. You may get a reduced premium by putting all of your vehicles on one policy. Talk to your insurer to find out if fleet insurance is right for you.

Coverage vs. cost

You need to balance coverage (protection) against cost. Choosing the appropriate level of coverage depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The value of the vehicle(s)
  • The value of the assets you must protect
  • The amount of money your company can afford to pay out of pocket
  • The company’s risk tolerance

If a damage claim is filed against your company, and the amount sought is higher than your company’s coverage limits, your company (or you personally if it’s a sole proprietorship) will be responsible for any amount beyond that coverage. Your insurance agent can tailor a policy to meet your company’s needs.

Now, the employer isn’t always responsible for its employee’s actions. Here are a few examples of when an employee may be on his or her own:

  • Intentional acts
  • Acts beyond the scope of the employee’s authority
  • Nonbusiness pursuits during business hours
  • Nonbusiness pursuits after business hours

Where does that number come from?

Have you ever wondered how your insurance company arrives at the cost of your premium? Your insurer will consider the coverage amounts you select and will use statistical information about your company, its employees, and the vehicles that will be covered. There are several ways to reduce the premium, including:

  • Multiple policy discounts (auto, property and casualty)
  • Accept larger deductibles (out-of-pocket expenses)
  • Antitheft systems (alarms, tracking devices)
  • Good driver discounts (a percentage for each year of clean driving)
  • Safety restraint devices (air bags, seat belts)
  • Garaging (indoor facility)

Evaluating and comparing coverage

Before purchasing auto insurance, you should evaluate and compare the various products offered to ensure that your company gets the best deal possible. Compare policies in terms of price, coverage, exclusions, and reputation of insurer. Shop around for different quotes, but make sure you are comparing similar policies. Also, weigh the policy cost against both coverage and quality of service provided.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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Fundamental Concepts for New Investors

October 7, 2019

Investing involves setting goals for the future and weighing the risks and potential rewards associated with a wide variety of investment opportunities. If you are a new investor, this might seem like an overwhelming task.

But take heart. Becoming familiar with a few basic concepts could help you have more confidence in your investing decisions. So don’t be intimidated by complicated-sounding jargon, and don’t hesitate to ask questions — after all, this is your money.

Understand your investment options

There is a direct relationship between investment risk and return. Higher-risk investments (such as stocks) will generally offer the potential for higher returns in exchange for taking greater risk. The lowest-risk investments, such as U.S. Treasury bills (which are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest), typically offer the lowest returns.

A stock is a security that represents ownership (or equity) in a corporation. An investor who purchases shares of stock owns a piece of the company and has a claim on a portion of the assets and earnings. This means shareholders can make money if the company does well or lose money if the company does poorly.

A bond is a fixed-income security issued by a government entity or corporation to raise money needed for ongoing operations or to finance new projects. Investors who buy bonds are essentially lending money to the issuing organizations in exchange for regular interest payments.

Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are investment vehicles that pool money from investors to purchase stocks, bonds, cash, and other securities according to fund objectives. Mutual funds and ETFs invest in dozens to perhaps hundreds of securities, offering shareholders a level of diversification that might be difficult for individual investors to achieve on their own.

Employ time-tested tools

Asset allocation and diversification are widely used investment techniques that can help manage risk and improve the performance of your portfolio over the long term.

Asset allocation is the way your investment dollars are divided among major asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives. The goal is to select an appropriate balance of assets that seeks the highest potential return in light of your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Diversification involves spreading money among multiple investments whose values typically rise and fall at different rates and times. This way, gains in one area can help compensate for losses in another, and may help limit the impact of loss from any single type of investment.

Revisit your portfolio

The asset allocation of your portfolio may shift over time due to market performance. A shift toward stocks may leave you overexposed to risk, or a shift toward bonds might make your portfolio too conservative to accomplish your long-term goals. Rebalancing is a process that returns a portfolio to its original risk profile.

One rebalancing method is to sell some of the assets in which you have too much money and use the proceeds to buy more shares in the other asset classes. However, this could trigger capital gains taxes in a taxable investment account (but not in a tax-deferred retirement account such as an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan). Another way is to direct new investment dollars into the underweighted asset class. While this method typically takes longer, it generally has no immediate tax consequences because you’re not selling any assets.

Expect market volatility

The potential for larger, short-term price swings is the price you pay for the higher long-term returns associated with riskier investments. But even if you view market volatility as a normal occurrence, it can be tough to handle when it’s your money at stake.

Although only you can decide how much investment risk you can handle, try not to overreact when the market drops, especially if you still have many years left to invest. Instead, stay focused on your financial goals and your long-term investment strategy.

Note: All investments are subject to market fluctuation, risk, and loss of principal. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Diversification and asset allocation are methods used to help manage investment risk; they do not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.

Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.

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