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Financial

WASHINGTON — Wells Fargo said this week that it agreed to pay $591 million to Fannie Mae to settle disputes over soured mortgages that the bank sold to the seized housing-finance giant during the subprime housing boom.

The agreement covers loans originated by Wells Fargo before 2009 that Fannie Mae was trying to force the bank to buy back.

Wells Fargo will pay $541 million in cash to Fannie Mae, with the rest covered by credits from earlier repurchases.

Fannie Mae and its sibling firm, Freddie Mac, were seized by the federal government in 2008 as they teetered near bankruptcy because of bad loans they had purchased from banks. read more »

 
Financial

At a recent Christmas gathering I was speaking with a close friend who said, “You were right about that investment Jason. It turned out to be fraudulent.” Sometimes I hate being right, and this was one of those occasions. Let me share with you what happened.

Several years ago this friend, who is retired, told me they were considering a high-yield investment. This particular investment paid a much higher interest rate than was typically found at banks or was being offered by high-quality bonds or dividend-paying stocks.

Apparently, they had a relationship with a past business associate who had told them about this so-called “investment opportunity” and because of that existing relationship, they had a high degree of trust and confidence that the investment was a good one. read more »

 
Financial

If you’ve been around long-time investors, you’ll probably hear them say, ruefully, “If only I had gotten in on the ground floor of such-and-such computer or social media company, I’d be rich today.” That may be true — but is it really relevant to anyone? Do you have to be an early investor of a spectacular company to achieve investment success?

Not really. Those early investors of the “next big thing” couldn’t have fully anticipated the tremendous results enjoyed by those companies. But these investors all had one thing in common: They were ready, willing and able to look for good opportunities.

And that’s what you need to do, too. Of course, you may never snag the next big thing, but that’s not the point. If you’re going to be a successful investor, you need to be diligent in your search for new opportunities. And these opportunities don’t need to be brand-new to the financial markets — they can just be new to you. read more »

 
Financial

About 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, according to a survey from the University of Scranton. But the same survey shows that only 8 percent of us actually keep our resolutions. Perhaps this low success rate isn’t such a tragedy when our resolutions involve things like losing a little weight or learning a foreign language. But when we make financial resolutions — resolutions that, if achieved, could significantly help us in our pursuit of our important long-term goals — it’s clearly worthwhile to make every effort to follow through.

So, what sorts of financial resolutions might you consider? Here are a few possibilities:

Boost your contributions to your retirement plans. Each year, try to put in a little more to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plans. These tax-advantaged accounts are good options for your retirement savings strategy. read more »

 

Should I expand my business to include selling to the Navy? Do we have opportunities in our local area to sell to other government agencies? How much of an investment in money and time does this take? Can I be successful? Where do I start? These are some of the most common questions business owners ask when they visit the Kitsap Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

In Kitsap County, we live in a land of government contracting opportunities. We have multiple Navy bases and are within close proximity to Lewis-McChord, the Veterans Administration, GSA, NOAA, Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, and many other agencies accessible by ferry or within driving distance. The Federal Government purchases everything — from ships to toilet paper. And they contract for services that range from professional engineering services to dogs for chasing geese off airfields. read more »

 

The banks have fired their first salvo in what could soon turn into a war of litigation over the Volcker Rule.

As expected, the American Bankers Association, an industry trade group, filed a motion in federal court in Washington on Dec. 24 seeking to quickly suspend one part of the two-week-old Volcker Rule. The trade group claims 275 small banks will suffer an imminent $600 million hit to capital and make them less likely to lend to consumers and businesses.

Although the current dispute centers on an obscure and complex investment product, the association’s lawsuit could become an early test of how much the industry can successfully push back against the Volcker Rule. read more »

 

I have had the good opportunity to work with many people who are retired business owners. Entrepreneurs tend to be cautiously optimistic and are very savvy. They have done a great job building their businesses, making money, and adding value to people’s lives. Often times, though, they have not had the time nor inclination to really dive into personal finance. They just make it, save it and keep working harder and harder. Then one day they realize they don’t want to work forever.

One of the questions I often ask in my first meeting is, “If you could wave a magic wand and accomplish just one thing by us meeting today, what would it be?” The common reply usually has something to do with the words clarity and confidence. Sometimes I’ll get the good-humored reply of, “I want to earn 20 percent per year.” read more »

 
Tax Planning

At various times, many people may feel frustrated by the performance of their investments. For example, they expect growth, and they don’t get it — or they think the value of their investment won’t fluctuate much, but it does. However, some of this frustration might be alleviated if investors were more familiar with the nature of their investment vehicles. Specifically, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between long-term and short-term investments.

What defines long-term and short-term investments? Long-term investments are those vehicles that you intend to hold for more than one year — in fact, you generally intend to hold them for several years. On the other hand, you usually hold short-term investments for one year or less.

You can find several key distinctions between short-term and long-term vehicles. Here are a few to consider: read more »

 
Tax Planning

Now that another year is ending, it’s a good time to take stock of where you are on your journey toward financial security. Of course, you could find many different “measuring sticks” to assess your progress, but you can certainly gain considerable information just by asking yourself some basic questions.

Here are a few to consider:

How close am I to my retirement goals? Your comprehensive investment strategy should include a reasonably good estimate of how much money you will eventually need to sustain the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned. At least once a year, you should evaluate how much closer you’ve gotten to your goals than the year before.

Am I making sufficient progress toward my goals? When assessing your progress, try to determine if your portfolio is properly allocated between stocks, stock-based vehicles, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit and other investments. read more »

 
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